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Mike Otis
Mike Otis, Legal Advisor
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 2161
Experience:  B.Comm; LL.B; LL.M.
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What are rules/procedures when it comes to serving summons

Resolved Question:

What are rules/procedures when it comes to serving summons? To be effected, should the person served sign receipt? If three years go by, and the person is not served in his hand, what happens?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: South Africa Law
Expert:  Mike Otis replied 5 years ago.
Welcome, and thank you for your question.

The rules of both the magistrates' courts and the high court provides for various manners in which the sheriff of the court can effectively serve summons. Personal service is only one such manner. Service may be effected on any person older than 16 years who resides at the defendant's place of residence or who is employed at the defendant's place of business/employment. If none of these options are available, the sheriff may effect service by affixing a copy of the summons to the main entrance/door to the defendant's residence or place of business/employment.

In none of these option is it a requirement that the defendant sign to acknowledge receipt. The sheriff will issue a document named a "return of service" in which he/she confirms the date, time and manner of service. The return of service on its own is considered to be sufficient proof of service.

If a summons is not served withing three years after the cause of action arose, it is very likely that the plaintiff's claim will have prescribed, which renders in unenforceable.

Yours faithfully,
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