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What Is a Civil Summons?


When a person instigates a process of litigation against another person or entity, it is necessary that the former inform the latter that the process has begun. It is not possible that litigation be instigated without the knowledge of all involved parties. Thus, a legal document is issued by a court of law informing the other party that legal proceedings have begun in his or her name. This legal document is referred to as a civil summons.


This legal document provides the other party of litigation with the appropriate information as to what the grounds of the lawsuit are as well as the litigant filing it. When a person receives a civil summons, it is necessary for the person to provide a response by the date and time provided in the summons. Upon receipt of a civil summons, it is necessary that one contact a lawyer in order to understand what needs to be done.


A response to a civil summons can be done in several ways. First, the defendant of a civil summons can appear before a court of law at the time and date provided in the summons. This allows the person to actually personally respond to the complaints brought against him or her by the plaintiff, the one who instigated the legal proceedings. Another means of responding to a civil summons is to write a formal letter, which is to be filed according to the directions stipulated in the civil summons. However, there are instances when a lawyer may advise his or her client to ignore a civil summons.

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