What happens if you ignore a summons in South Africa?

Asked by: Thelma Blick  |  Last update: September 10, 2022
Score: 4.3/5 (53 votes)

It is a criminal offence to avoid or ignore the summons served against you. If you do not reply to the summons within 10 days, the Plaintiff's lawyers have probably submitted a request for a default judgement. It can take up to 3 months, so don't think the matter has just disappeared.

Does a summons expire in South Africa?

The Rules of Court no longer provide for a period until a summons will lapse. Previously, a summons would lapse after 12 months since date of issue, or having been served, the Plaintiff has not taken further steps in prosecution.

What happens if you ignore the summons?

Can you ignore a summons? Although it might be tempting, ignoring a lawsuit will not make it go away and could result in the court awarding a money judgement against you by default.

What happens if a Defendant does not respond to a summons?

— If the defendant fails to answer within the time specified in these rules, the court shall, upon motion of the plaintiff, order judgment against the defendant by default, and thereupon the court shall proceed to receive the plaintiff's evidence and render judgment granting him such relief as the complaint and the ...

What is the next step after summons?

Once the summons is served via Sheriff, you will have 10 days to respond with a Notice of Intention to Defend or attempt to negotiate a settlement with the Plaintiff. If you fail to respond, the Plaintiff can apply for default judgment to be entered in their favour.

Why you should not ignore a court summons

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How do you defend a summons?

How to defend yourself? The court rules provide you with 10 business days from the day you received the summons to notify the Plaintiff or their attorney that you intend to defend yourself. At this stage, you should contact an attorney to seek legal assistance and advice regarding the claim against you.

How long does a court summons take?

On the basis that the information is laid before the Court within 6 months, the Police are entitled to proceed and it may be that delays in processing paperwork or even obtaining a Court date can result in the Summons being received after 6 months.

How do you answer a summons without a lawyer?

Take your written answer to the clerk's office.

If you've decided to take your answer to the clerk's office in person for filing, bring your originals plus at least 2 copies. The clerk will take your documents and stamp each set of papers "filed" with the date. They will then give the copies back to you.

How do you know if a case is filed against you?

Case Status : Search by FIR number
  • Select the Police Station from the select box.
  • In the FIR Number box, enter the FIR Number of the case.
  • In the Year box, enter the FIR Year.
  • Click on either the Pending or Disposed option button, according to the status of the Case.

What happens if you don't respond to a complaint?

You Can Lose By Default:

If the Plaintiff files this form, the Court can enter a judgment against you. The Plaintiff will win the case. Then, the Plaintiff can enforce the judgment against you. This can mean getting money from you by garnishing your paycheck or putting a lien on your house or car.

How do I defend a summons in South Africa?

The summons that you received should contain a section called Notice of Intention to Defend. Make two copies of this Notice and take one copy to the court mentioned in the summons to get it stamped and filed, and take the other to the Plaintiff's attorneys. It's advisable to speak to a lawyer for advice and assistance.

What happens when someone doesn't respond to court?

If you do not respond

If you do not file a response within 30 days after you were served, the plaintiff can file a form called “Request for Default,” which means you have defaulted and can no longer respond to the lawsuit to defend yourself.

How must a summons be served in South Africa?

The summons is usually signed by an attorney, or by the plaintiff personally if he is not represented. Once it has been drafted, it must be issued by the clerk of the court or the registrar, who places a stamp on the document and gives it a case number.

Does a summons become stale?

If summons in an action be not served within 12 months of the date of its issue or, having been served, the plaintiff has not within that time after service taken further steps in the prosecution of the action, the summons shall lapse.”

What happens after a default Judgement South Africa?

“If a plaintiff in whose favour a default judgment has been granted agreed in writing that the judgment be rescinded or varied, a court must rescind or vary such judgment on application by any party affected by it.” On application a default judgment where the plaintiff has agreed in writing can be rescinded or varied.

Does a summons expire?

Under the Rules of the Superior Courts, a Summons (the document that initiates legal proceedings) remains in force for a 12-month period from the day it is issued1. If the Summons is not served on the defendant(s) within that 12-month period, it expires and cannot then be validly served.

How do you know if you have been charged?

If you suspect you may have been charged even though you haven't been arrested or received any summons, you can always contact your local police department for information. By asking the department to conduct a warrant check, you can uncover any criminal charges that have been filed against you.

What is disposed case?

Case disposed meaning

A case disposed means the case is completed in the terminology of court proceedings. A civil or criminal case is said to be disposed when all the issues or changes in the case it has been disposed of. It is done on the actual date of dismissal.

How chargesheet is filed?

A charge sheet is a report that is filed by the police to the Magistrate after the investigation has been successfully done and the police believe that the accused is guilty.

Can you go to jail for a civil lawsuit?

Civil law also settles disputes between individuals and organisations. If you are convicted of a civil offence, you are not likely to be sent to prison, but most often will become liable for compensation.

Can I counter sue for emotional distress?

You can claim for the emotional distress the discrimination has caused you - this is called 'injury to feelings'. You'll need to say how the discrimination made you feel. Ask your family, friends, colleagues, medical professionals or support workers if they'll be witnesses to how the discrimination affected you.

Can someone else accept served papers?

Any person means just that–a relative or a friend is fine. However, many states require that this person be approved by the court.

Do I have to attend a court summons?

You should go to court if you get a summons - you can be arrested and taken to the court by the police if you don't. You might get a summons from the court if: they haven't been able to contact you with a witness warning.

What happens if I don't turn up to court as a victim?

If you won't go to court, you may get a 'witness summons' from the court. A witness summons says you have to go to court. If you still fail to go to court without a good reason, you could be 'in contempt of court' and you may be arrested.

What happens if you don't turn up to court?

If you do not attend court a warrant will be issued for your arrest and it is likely that the police will come looking for you at your home address, or you could be stopped on the street.