Ensure receipt of court summons is acknowledged

According to the Family Justice Courts' website, when a complainant applies for a Personal Protection Order, the courts will assign a process server to personally serve the summons on the respondent at the address provided.

However, when I called the courts' hotline, I was told the respondent is not required to be present to accept or acknowledge the summons; the document can be left at the door or pasted on the front door.

There are two issues with this approach.

First, there is a risk of the summons being removed by a third party, especially if the respondent lives in public housing. The unknowing respondent may then be penalised for failing to attend the court mention.

Second, even though the document is in an envelope, the fact that it may be pasted on the door means it is likely to attract the attention of anyone walking past. Any neighbour could easily gain access to the document.

This practice of pasting the summons on the door could be seen as a form of public shaming, where the respondent is exposed to unnecessary attention from his neighbours. This is unfair to the respondent.

I hope the Family Justice Courts will consider using phone communication, e-mail or registered mail to secure acknowledgement from the respondent, so as to allow the matter to be resolved more amicably and smoothly.

Teo Choon Lik

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2016, with the headline 'Ensure receipt of court summons is acknowledged'. Print Edition | Subscribe