Judgment summons
Produced in partnership with David Salter of Deputy High Court judge and Recorder
Judgment summons

The following Family practice note produced in partnership with David Salter of Deputy High Court judge and Recorder provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Judgment summons
  • Standard of proof and human rights
  • Debts capable of enforcement
  • Procedure
  • Practical considerations
  • Approach of the court
  • Options available to the court

Judgment summons

A judgment summons is a summons made pursuant to the Debtors Act 1869 (DA 1869). It requires a debtor to appear in court. As long as the debtor has, or has had, the means to pay and refuses or neglects to do so, the court may commit the debtor to prison for a maximum period of six weeks. The procedural steps must be strictly followed. However, in Prest v Prest the Court of Appeal emphasised that proof must be provided to the criminal standard and that the debtor cannot be compelled to give evidence (see also Family Procedure Rules 2010, SI 2010/2955, 33.14(4) (FPR 2010)).

A standard order for committal, and a suspended order for committal, under DA 1869 have been issued as part of the standard orders project initiated by the President of the Family Division, see Practice Note: Standard orders—committal, orders 5.3 and 5.4.

Standard of proof and human rights

As a result of the decision of the Court of Appeal in Mubarak v Mubarak, the judgment summons remedy was reviewed to ensure compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998. Further detailed provisions regarding the judgment summons procedure were introduced by FPR 2010, SI 2010/2955, 33.9–33.17.

Amendments were subsequently made to the procedure for a judgment summons under FPR 2010 with effect from 24 August 2015. In particular, the amendments alter the provision for the

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