How To Draft a Writ of Summons (With Examples): The court, the last hope of a common man has become a place of last resort for individuals and legal personalities in times of disputes, particularly Civil disputes such as: Land dispute. Breach of Contract, Tortious liability, amongst other civil actions.
The mode of commencing a Civil Action in the Court of law is usually by a Writ of Summons, unless there is a provision to the contrary; prescribing that such action should be commenced by other forms like Originating Summons, Petitions, and Originating motion. Thus, it can be said that nearly all Civil Actions is commenced by a Writ of Summons. Hence, it is very important that every Lawyer, Law Student, and prospective Litigants should know how to draft a Writ of Summons.
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Meaning of a Writ of Summons
A Writ of summons is a written command by the state or plaintiff to the defendant whose name and address are inserted on the Writ, informing and commanding him that he must enter an appearance to the writ on a particular day or given time, to answer to the suit of the plaintiff, in default of which the Court may proceed to enter Judgment against such defendant.
The Strout Judicial Dictionary of Words and Phrases defines a Writ of summons as the process by which Civil proceedings in the High Court are generally commenced.
The totality of the above definitions is to the effect that a Writ of Summons is a legal document issued to a defendant in a case, informing such defendant that a Civil proceeding has commenced against him, and therefore summoning him to appear before the Court on the so designated day as stated in the Writ.
Why a Writ of Summons
A Writ of summons is very important in a Legal proceeding for the following reasons:
a. It is the mode of commencing Civil actions in Court
b. It serves a means of bringing to the notice of the court your grievance
c. A Writ is necessary to compel the appearance of parties before the Court
d. A Writ is necessary to ensure that people don’t abscond litigation and seeking justice in court. As where you ignore a writ with the intention to abscond litigation, a binding default judgment may be entered against you.
e. The above shows why a Writ of summons is very important in litigation and amicably resolving disputes in Court, but how can one draft this Writ of summons?
How To Draft A Writ of Summons
To draft a Writ of Summons, the following essentials must in present in such Writ:
a. Court Heading: The first step in drafting a Writ of summons is addressing it properly to the right court, and the prescribed heading of such court.
The right court in this instance refers to the Court which has the Jurisdiction to entertain such matter which you intend to institute in Court.
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b. Suit No: Just after your Court heading, on the right hand of the Writ is the Suit No. The Suit No is the number assigned by the Court Registry to the suit which you want to institute in the Court.
c. Parties: Parties here refers to the names of the parties involved and their designations. It must be present in every Writ of summons, as they won’t be a writ without two or more parties being involved.
An example of how to include parties and their designations to your Writ and just after the suit No is:
ANAYO TOCHUKWU ————————————————————– CLAIMANT
CHIEF CHUKWEMEKA OBI —————————————————— DEFENDANT
d. Address to the Defendant: An Address to the Defendant is the order to the Defendant within jurisdiction, mandating him to appear in court at a so specified time and date. This address must be dated and signed by the Court registrar.
Just below the signature of the Court Registrar, there is a Memorandum to the Writ; stating the life span of the Writ. E.g. six months, the renewal date of the writ, and how the Defendant may enter appearance in Court either personally or by a Legal Practitioner. The Memorandum also states the mode of entering such appearance, and such Memorandum usually comes in form of N/B:
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e. Endorsement: After the Memorandum to be subscribed to the Writ, there is an Endorsement as to Claim.
This Endorsement of Claim states all that the Claimant claims against the Defendant in Court. For example: AN ORDER FOR damages for breach of Contract in the sum of 5,000,000 (Five Million Naira), AN ORDER for injunction preventing the defendant from entering this land.
The Endorsement of Claim is foreclosed by the name and address of the Lawyer to the Claimant who issued the Writ.
f. Endorsement of Service: Every Writ of Summons must contain an Endorsement as to Service. This Endorsement as to service is the declaration that the Writ of Summons was served to the Defendant, and such Writ was served accompanied with other documents such as:
The Statement of Claim;
A list of witnesses to be called at the trial;
Written statements on oath of the witnesses, except witnesses on subpoena;
List of non-documentary exhibits;
Copies of every document to be relied on by the claimant at trial;
Pre-action protocol form.
g. Signature of the Registrar: The signature of the Registrar is very important in the Endorsement of Service of a Writ of Summons. As a Writ of Summons is only validly issued and authenticated for competent service on the Defendant when the Registrar of the Court appends their seal and signature thereto.
SAMPLE OF A WRIT OF SUMMONS FROM A FEDERAL HIGH COURT
SAMPLE OF A WRIT OF SUMMONS FROM A INDUSTRIAL COURT
In addition to the seal and signature of the registrar, such Writ must be dated by that Registrar.
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The above is the standard format for drafting a Writ of summons in Nigeria. However, for clarity and easy comprehension of the necessary details required in the aforementioned essentials of a Writ of Summons, kindly find attached below a sample of a Writ of Summons as extracted from the 2016 edition of ‘Sample drafts for Lawyers’ written by Akin .O. Oluwadayisi ESQ, and forwarded by Samuel .A. Osumoul ESQ.
Trust this article was insightful? And you have now substantially learnt how to draft a Writ of Summons perfectly. Well, if you have any more questions on this topic, kindly drop them in the comment section and we will give you a reply as soon as possible.
Tochukwu Anayo-Enechukwu is a Public Speaker, Content Creator and Prolific Writer. His proficiency in writing has earned him numerous publications in National and International Magazines. Recently, he was awarded Co-author of Songs of Peace – The World’s Biggest Anthology of Contemporary Poetry ever to be published. You can contact him via [email protected] or 08109494399.