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Civil Summons for debts less than €15,000

If you've received a judgment from the District Court you'll be sent a Civil Summons, which specifies the date of the court hearing you're expected to attend in person.

Civil Summons are usually for debts that are less than €15,000. If you've received a Civil Summons, don't panic. 

You can call the MABS helpline for debt advice on 0761 07 2000. They’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm.

How do I respond to a Civil Summons?

You have three options if you've received a summons:

1. Agree with the amount and pay within 10 days
If you agree with the amount stated on the summons, you can pay within 10 days of receiving it and it'll stop any further proceedings. You won't need to go to court, and you'll also avoid any further fees.

2. Agree with the amount and ask for more time to pay
You can call the lender or their solicitor (if appropriate) straight away and try to reach an agreement with them. If you can't reach an agreement, you'll need to continue with option three.

3. Defend the proceedings
Sometimes the amount a creditor claims isn’t right, or you don’t actually owe the money. For example, this happens when the debt isn’t yours. If you don't agree with the amount claimed, you can 'defend' the claim by completing the 'Notice of Intention to Defend' form attached to the summons. It's important you complete and return the notice within 28 days of receiving it. If you don't, the lender will be able to ask the District Court to issue the judgment.

The Notice of Intention to Defend contains two sections:

  • 'Appearance'
    Post this section to the District Court Clerk to the address specified on the summons
  • 'Appearance and Defence'
    Send this section to the lender or their solicitor

By entering an 'Appearance', you're informing the court that you want to defend the judgment in court in person. By sending an 'Appearance and Defence' to the lender, you're letting them know you intend to defend the proceedings.

If you decided to defend the proceedings, a hearing will take place. After a discussion with you and your lender, the judge will make a decision. If the judge feels you can't pay the amount, they may grant a stay of execution, which delays the enforcement for a set amount of time. Or, the judge can order for payment by instalments.

If you're not sure which option is right for you, contact the MABS helpline on 0761 07 2000. They're open Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm.

What happens if I don't respond to the Civil Summons?

If you don't respond, the judgment will be issued and the lender will be allowed to start further action to reclaim the debt. No hearing will take place and payment by instalments or a stay of execution is unlikely to be ordered.

It’s very important to respond in the time frame given, as if you don’t the court could order you to pay the debt back at a rate you can’t afford and this could lead to further enforcement action.

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