A writ of summons is a convocation inviting you to appear at a hearing in court.
The date and hour of the court appearance as well as the address of the court before which you must appear are referred to in the document.
The writ of summons further contains the identity of the person who initiated the summons and the reasons of this convocation.
A summons has several purposes, such as, and mainly, to have a judicial decision pronounced and to have this decision subsequently enforced (proceed to the service of an order, a seizure of furniture, an attachment of salary, …).
It further interrupts the limitation period and also allows in specific cases to have the interests accrue.
Once the writ of summons has been served, the original thereof is transmitted to the registry of the court having jurisdiction in order to have it scheduled in the court’s cause list.
If you don’t react at this stage and you let the hearing take place, in principle, a default judgement will be rendered against you.
Besides the trouble that this can generate, the amounts you will be owing after the judgement will be higher than those you were owing at the time of the summons because the judge will in principle sentence you to the expenses of the proceedings.
These expenses are calculated by the court, it concerns the total of the following items:
These amounts are justified by the fact that the successful party had to pay a judicial officer to initiate the summons and a lawyer to represent him at the hearing.
It depends on whether or not you acknowledge the amounts claimed from you.
IF YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THE DEBT
The best thing is to contact the judicial officer in order he would communicate the amount you must pay to avoid the hearing.
You must know that if you pay before the case is scheduled in the cause list, you will save the cost of « the registration » and of « Legal Aid Fund ». The amount you can save that way varies from 60 to several hundreds of euros.
If the case has already been scheduled in the cause list, but the date of the hearing has not passed yet, it remains interesting to proceed to payment, because you “only” have to pay ¼ of the proceedings allowance instead of the full amount when the judgement has been rendered (so, you save ¾ of a proceedings allowance which can amount up to 36,000 €).
To the extent it is impossible to determine by yourself if the case has already been scheduled or not and it appears difficult to calculate exactly the amounts due, your best option is to contact the office to know the exact balance due and by when payment must be made.
In principle, you can’t agree a repayment plan after a summons, but this is however conceivable if the plan ends before the hearing. Thereto, it is also advisable to contact the office.
If you want a repayment, you can also appear at the hearing and propose a repayment plan to the court. If the latter accepts the plan, this will be stated in the judgement and the enforcement procedure will be suspended as long as the plan is complied with.
IF, ON THE CONTRARY, YOU CONTEST THE DEBT
Your best option is to appear at the hearing in order to avoid to be sentenced by default and to have to initiate proceedings.
The best option is to consult a lawyer (possibly via the Legal Aid Bureau).