QUESTION: Dear Legal Wiz,
I visited the Sutton Street [Resident] Court and a man took J$3,000 in order to serve a summons on a businessman who I found it hard to serve as he was never at workplace in Kingston. I had to leave the island and the man called, after he picked up the new summons to reissue for me, to tell me that he needed J$13,000.00 more. He told me that he needed the money to cover hunting down the businessman. I find this hard to believe because when this man took my money, he told me that he knew where to find him, and where he lived as they were friends. He told me the businessman lives in the hills of Kingston and Saint Andrew.

Is this real? Does the Court really charge J$16,000.00 to serve on someone in the Kingston hills? That is almost $200 dollars in the United States. I am also thinking that if he doesn’t find him where he said he would, and the man does not appear I could loose.

Darren Cross (not real name)

RESPONSE: Dear Darren,

The Resident Magistrate Court fees are listed on documents put up around the Court Room. For the area in question the fee is more than $1,000 but definitely not more than $2,000. When there is a ruling in your favour, this sum is attached and must be paid back by the person you bring to Court.

A summons can be served by any adult with a few exceptions such as a policeman. Bear in mind though that the money you pay to anyone who is not employed to the Court is never recovered through the Court.

It does not seem as though the man who spoke with you actually works at the Court office. There are a several persons who approach members of the public on the Court compound, who offer assistance to do several tasks for a fee. Members of the public are usually warned by the Court staff that if they contract the services of these persons, they do so at their own risk. One reason being that there is no control over the fees they charge and/or there is no guarantee to their efficiency.

Some of them are reliable, and the fees they charge are generally accepted especially by persons who insist on not using the Court bailiff for numerous reasons. On the other hand some of them are doing a disservice in the fees they charge and the poor service they offer, which makes it bad for other persons.

In your case, the fee is exaggerated, especially as the man you contracted told you he already knew where to find the man to be served. Please realize that although you took the risk to contract with this person, he has not acted fairly towards you, but this is not the norm for the Justice System of Jamaica.

The challenge you will have is where the Court bailiffs make several trips and do not find the businessman. At that point however, you should consider “alternative methods of service” available through the Court.

You have the option to hire someone to track down the businessman, to make sure he can be found, and confirm where he is likely to be. Either way, please take back your summons, and the monies you already paid.

Our team can assist in any decision you make, but for a fee which is not likely to be J$16,000.00.

Legal Wiz

——————————ON THE SUPREME COURT——————————————–

QUESTION: Dear Legal Wiz,

We are a law firm operating out of West Virginia, USA. I am a practicing attorney in West Virginia, USA, and I am trying to locate a telephone number for the Surreme Court in Jamaica. We have tried everything. Do you have a number for that entity that I could have? Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

RESPONSE: Dear West Virginia Law Firm,

Please see details on the address and phone number of the Supreme court below:

Supreme Court of Jamaica,
Public Building
East King Street


Legal Wiz

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2 thoughts on “$16,000 to serve a ‘civil’ summons in Jamaica.. really?”
  1. That response is not accurate. The service of the usually cost $3000 dollars, however if the police/bailiff serving the summon incurred charges whilst attempting to serve the summons then you should pay the fee. You then indicate to the judge the cost of the summons and it will be added to the plaint. So the person whom it was served to will have to repsy the cost. The court will not quote a cost as serving a civil summon is a private service.

  2. @ Karen (2018/11/30 at 6:32 am): Thanks for your response.
    The service of any summons is addressed by the rules of the Court and the Bailiff Act.
    There is a tariff that guides on fees, except where private process servers are contracted to serve the summons.
    If you had done your research, then you would not have blatantly quoted 3000 as fees to serve civil summons. Fees are quoted by any Bailiff office based on the location and distance.
    The fee to serve a Parish Court summons within the area mentioned by the reader who submitted her query is in fact 1080.
    Additionally, the Judges at the Sutton Street location do not award costs outside of that dictated by the tariff and paid only to the Bailiff Office associated with that court, located on the compound of the Court. Please contact the Bailiff office along Sutton Street to verify before commenting further.
    This practice needs to be addressed as costs associated to bring the claim regardless of who serves the summons, once reasonable should be attached to the sum awarded by the successful litigant. BUT at the Sutton Street Parish Court (Civil Division), Sutton Street this is not the case as the Judges apply their discretion otherwise perhaps as a means to combat the high fees imposed by private process servers deemed unreasonable as is the issue of this article.

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