English VersionIrish Version
Search for Click to Search
Advanced Search
Printable Version
All SectionsPractice DirectionsCourt Rules Terms & Sittings
Legal Diary Offices & Maps Judgments & Determinations

Guidelines for ... issuing a High Court special summons

A special summons is issued for summary proceedings without pleadings - that is, without the documents which are seen in other cases such as, statement of claim, defence etc. These cases usually relate to a specific law or issue. The case is heard on affidavit with, or without, oral evidence.

When a special summons is used

Order 3 Rules of the Superior Courts provides a list of areas where it is appropriate to issue proceedings by special summons.

The more common areas include;

Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989
Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996
Arbitration Acts 1954, 1980, 1998
Adoption Acts 1974 and 1988
Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991
Garda Compensation Acts 1941 -1945
Vendor and Purchaser Act 1874 (section 9)
Trade Marks Act 1996
Trustee Act 1893
Possession of property on foot of a mortgage
Administration of an estate
Succession Act 1965
Administration of a trust
Conveyancing Acts 1881 - 2009
Settled Land Acts 1882 - 1890
Determination of a question of construction of a deed, will or other written instrument
An interpleader order
Orders for taxation and delivery of bills of costs
Delivery by a solicitor of deeds, documents and papers

What to include on the special summons

The Rules of the Superior Courts at Appendix A Part I No. 3 provides the layout of the special summons

Page one:
  • The heading 'Special Summons appears at the top centre of the page
  • Insert 'In the Matter of ..... (cite legislation as appropriate) ...'
  • If the case is between two parties, set out the title of the case as;



..... Plaintiff(s)


.... Defendant


The names of the plaintiffs and defendants must be set out in full - for example, Ann Black and Barry Black (not Ann and Barry Black) and no titles such as Mr. Ms. or Dr. are to be used.

  • If the case is not between two parties, the following should be set out 'On the application of ... (insert name in full) ...'
  • Do not fill in the date of issue (after the name of the Chief Justice) - the Central Office of the High Court will give this to you
Page two
  • The heading on this page is 'Special Indorsement of Claim'. The details of the claim - which are the details of the case - are set out here.
  • Appendix B Part III provides the format for the Special Indorsement of Claim
  • Order 3 and order 4 Rules of the Superior Courts should be used to help with completing this part of the summons
  • At the end of the indorsement of claim the summons should be signed by the solicitor for the plaintiff or by the plaintiff in representing him/herself
  • The schedule of affidavits must set out the affidavits which will be used for the case
Page three
  • The following information should be added here;

'this summons was issued by insert name of firm of solicitors whose registered place of business is insert address of solicitor firm solicitors for the plaintiff who resides at insert plaintiff's address and is insert plaintiff's occupation' (If the plaintiff is male and has no occupation the word 'gentleman' should be used. If the plaintiff is female and has no occupation the word 'housewife' can be used.)


'This summons is issued by the plaintiff in person who resides at insert plaintiff's address and is insert plaintiff's occupation' (If the plaintiff is male and has no occupation the word 'gentleman' should be used. If the plaintiff is female and has no occupation the word 'housewife' can be used.)

  • When a summons is served on a defendant a record of that service must be made on the actual summons. This is done within 3 days of service of the summons by the person serving the summons.
  • The indorsement of service should be added here:


'this summons was served by me on the defendant at insert place of service on the (insert date) day of (insert month and year)
Signed: (person who served the summons signs here)
Address (insert address of the person who served the summons)'

Page four

The solicitor's name and address are added to the bottom of the page (this is the back page of the document). If the summons is being issued by the plaintiff in person, the address of the plaintiff should be provided.

Issuing the special summons in the Central Office of the High Court

1. A special summons is filed and issued by post, or in person, at the Central Office of the High Court, Four Courts, Inns Quay, Dublin 7.

2. Documents filed should be on A4 size paper.

3. To issue the High Court special summons you should check;

  • You have attached the correct court fee
  • You have included a stamped self-addressed envelope if you are issuing by post
  • The special summons is in the correct format as set out in the Appendix B Part III
  • You have included three copies of your special summons - one of which will be sealed and returned to you. This is known as the 'original summons' and must be retained
  • You have listed the affidavits at the schedule of affidavits on page two
  • You have checked the Guidelines for filing a High Court affidavit
  • You have read the guidelines for what happens once you have issued a High Court summons


This check-list covers procedural points only, exceptional cases will require further consideration. It sets out the minimum requirements contained in the Rules of the Superior Courts (S.I. No. 15 of 1986). Details of court fees are set out in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court Fees Order.


This is not a legal document and it does not purport to give legal advice. If you need legal advice you should consult a solicitor.



This page updated: 2 March 2017