Served with Court Papers – Act or Ignore?
Court documents are important documents; judges, masters and magistrates are powerful persons.
Courts have the power to make us, extend our family by giving us children, sisters or brothers, break us, break us up, bankrupt us, make us homeless or send us to become guests at Her Majesty’s Prisons.
Yet, many of us who receive Court papers put them aside for when we have time; put them in hiding, so no one else would see them, and then we forget about them; rest them down to deal with something else more pressing; choose not to answer because our name is spelt with a “C” instead of a “K” or it says we live at Waltham but we now live at Thebaide; choose to do nothing because we are not at fault and the Court must see that this person is lying; or, we feel, hope, wish or believe the matter would go away if we pretend that we never received the papers.
Every Court document comes to you with instructions.
What to do when you receive a Court document:
(1). Read it through from start to finish; if you are unable to read, or unable to understand it, get someone who can do so;
(2). Read and act on it immediately; if you are uncomfortable trusting a friend or family member, take it to a lawyer who can advise you on what the papers mean, and what your rights are; and (3). When you are reading it, look for:
(a) Does it say you need to attend Court? Where? When? What time? Before which judge/master/magistrate?
(b)Does it say you have a certain amount of time to respond to give the Court your story? Seven (7) days? Fourteen (14) days? Twenty-one (21) days? Twenty-eight (28) days? Twenty-nine (29) days? Two (2) months?
(c) Does it tell you why you are receiving those documents?
(d)Does it say where or from whom you can obtain more information about the matter?
(e)Does it tell you what can happen if you fail to respond?
(f)What exactly is the response it says is needed from you?
(g)Is it an Order of Court, saying you must do something, or else, you can be sent to Her Majesty’s Prisons? Do NOT take this threat lightly. The Judge will make such an order, once it is satisfied that you received it or had an opportunity to see it.
Act now! The Court matter will not go away!
(The above reflects the views of the Grenada Bar Association)