Have you been accused of an offence and informed that you are liable for the damages suffered by another? Have you perhaps been summoned to appear in court and unsure if such notice given to you is legitimate? There are two ways upon which a person can be notified that he or she has been sued and/or have to appear in court, either by way of a summons or written notice.
A person can only be sued by way of a summons that has been served, by sheriff, on such accused personally, if the accused is not at home, summons can be served on any person who is at least 16 years old and who lives in the same household as such accused.
A summons is basically the start of a lawsuit and contains the nature of the claim that is brought before court and furthermore sets out the relief claimed for. A summons is a formal court document where one or more plaintiff(s) accuse one or more defendant(s) for damages suffered by such plaintiff(s), as set out in the particulars of claim, and thus accordingly call upon the defendant(s) to defend the matter in court.
A summons consist of the following:
- The jurisdiction in which summons was issued;
- The name of the parties to the action;
- The case number that was allocated to the case;
- The time periods that the defendant(s) have to enter appearance to defend the matter as well as the time period for the subsequent filing of the defendant(s) plea.
- The particulars of claim which accompanies the summons stating the nature of the claim as well as the relief sought.
A written notice is also a formal document but whereas a summons is issued by a court a written notice is issued by a law enforcement officer. A written notice is usually used in minor offences for example speeding over the speeding limit with your motor vehicle.
A written notice informs the accused of the nature of the charge(s) laid against him/her, the day and time to appear in court as well as the option for admission of guilt consequently involving a fine.
A written notice consists of the following:
- The jurisdiction in which the accused should appear;
- The time and day on which the accused should appear;
- The nature of the charge brought against the accused
- The parties involved in the case against the accused.
It is therefore important to know and understand the contents in the event of a summons or written notice being served upon you as accused. If the Sheriff attended to the service of summons or a law enforcement officer has given you a written notice to appear in court in is important to see an attorney as soon as possible to assist you in such a matter.
Written by C.M. Schietekat. B.Com(Law) & LL.B.