You are here: Home > Justice > Civil law > Originating summons

Originating summons


Usually proceedings are issued in the High Court by an originating summons.

After the summons has been prepared by your barrister, your solicitor will take it to the Central Office to be "issued" - this involves paying the stamp duty. After the stamp duty has been paid, the summons is stamped and it is ready to be served on the Defendant.

There are three types of originating summons:

  • Plenary summons. This type of summons is used to commence proceedings where there is a real dispute between the parties and/or the amount of the Plaintiff's claim is not specific or easy to calculate. For example, a plenary summons may be used where the Plaintiff claims that he or she was injured in a road traffic accident due to the Defendant's negligence. When a plenary summons is issued, the next step is for the parties to exchange pleadings (see Statement of Claim and Delivering the "Defence" in a civil case). Eventually, the case will be given a date for a trial and there may be evidence given by witnesses.
  • Summary summons. This type of summons is used when the amount of the Plaintiff's claim is easily quantifiable and the Defendant does not have any valid defence. For example, a summary summons may be used where the Plaintiff claims that he or she lent the Defendant a specific amount of money that has not been repaid. "Summary" proceedings do not involve pleadings and do not end in a trial with evidence given by witnesses. It is a fast-track procedure where the judge decides the case after reading affidavits submitted by both sides. However, if it becomes clear to the judge that the Defendant has a stateable defence to the claim, the judge may order that the case be dealt with as "plenary proceedings". This means that pleadings will be exchanged and the matter may go to trial.
  • Special summons. This type of summons is used for cases that involve pure issues of law or very specific issues of fact. For example, a special summons will be issued to commence a claim relating to the administration of the estate of a deceased person. Like summary proceedings, this is a fast-track procedure where the judge decides the case by reading affidavits submitted by both sides.

To serve an originating summons, a copy of the summons must be handed to the Defendant and he or she must be shown the original. The summons can be served on the Defendant's solicitor if he or she accepts service on behalf of his/her client and is authorised to do so.


All originating summonses must contain the following information:

  • A title. The Plaintiff's name and the Defendant's name make up the title of the proceedings.
  • The type of the Summons, for example, "plenary summons".
  • A description of the parties. The summons must state the surname, first name, the residence or place of business and the occupation of the Plaintiff. It must also state the name and address of the Defendant (or his/her solicitor).
  • A "indorsement of claim". This is the part of the summons that sets out what the Plaintiff claims he or she is entitled to. The level of detail necessary in this section depends on the type of summons. If the summons is a plenary summons, it is only necessary to give the Defendant information about the general nature of the Plaintiff's claim - more detail will be provided in the Statement of Claim that follows. If the summons is a summary summons or a special Summons, much more detail must be given about the nature, extent and grounds of the Plaintiff's claim against the Defendant. It should clearly set out the allegations that are being made by the Plaintiff and the amount that the Plaintiff claims he or she is entitled to.


The stamp duty that must be paid when a summons is issued is €190. See High Court fees.

Your solicitor and barrister will also charge fees for their services.

Page updated: 27 June 2014



Related Documents

  • Writs and pleadings
    This document provides a general overview of writs and pleadings in civil cases in Ireland.
  • Statement of Claim
    A Statement of Claim is a document that shows the Defendant the case that is being made against him or her, which he or she must answer in court in Ireland.
  • Delivering the defence in a civil case
    This document discusses what happens when a defendant delivers a "defence" to the plaintiff during a civil case in the Circuit Court or the High Court.

Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.