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Summons for oral examination

If a court makes a judgment against you in a debt case, you may be summonsed to attend a hearing to give information about your financial position.

A summons for oral examination is a court document saying you must attend court on a specific date to verbally answer questions about your financial circumstances.

The creditor takes this action to get information about your income, expenses, assets and debts. This helps them decide what they can do to get the money back.

Only a creditor who has a court order against you for a debt can request a summons for oral examination. The creditor will send you a summons. The summons will tell you that you must go to court on a particular day and time. You will have to answer, on oath, questions about your income, expenses, assets and debts.

You must go to the court at the time specified. If you do not go, a warrant may be issued for your arrest. Only a creditor can cancel the oral examination.

You must take with you any documents named on the summons, for example, bank books, bills and pay slips. Take along any evidence that may help your situation.

The oral examination

The examination usually happens in an office, not in open court. But, if you did not appear at an earlier appointment, the examination may take place in open court.

The court registrar will ask you questions about your financial circumstances. The creditor’s representative may also ask you questions. No one else can ask you questions.

The types of questions you may be asked are:

  • Is the ‘judgment debt’ still owing?
  • What is your full name?
  • What is your date of birth?
  • What is the address and phone number of your present permanent residence? Do you own or rent this residence?
  • If renting, give name/address/phone number of the estate agent/landlord.
  • Will you change your residence in the near future? If so, what will be your new address?
  • Are you single/married or in a de facto relationship?
  • How many dependants do you have (excluding your spouse/de facto)?
  • Do you own or are you buying any property (land or house)? Give details, including:
    • address
    • value
    • details of each mortgage, including mortgagee’s name and the amount owed
    • caveats/liens/charges on your property. A caveat is a notice of warning that says someone may have a right to some or all of the property. A lien is a right to hold another person’s property until they meet an obligation or pay a debt to do with that property.
  • Do you own or are you buying a motor vehicle? Give details, including:
    • make/model/condition
    • registration number
    • ‘encumbrances’ (a charge or liability, for example, a mortgage. ‘Encumbered’ here means that some one else has legal rights to the goods, for example, goods on hire purchase) such as mortgage/finance stating for each:
      • name of ‘encumbrancer’ (company/person to who you owe the money)
      • account number of encumbrancer.
  • Do you own or are you buying any furniture? List all items, stating which are ‘encumbered’:
    • name of encumbrancer (company/person)
    • account number.
  • Does any person/corporation/firm owe you money? For each, give details including:
    • name of person/corporation/firm
    • address/phone number
    • reference number (if any).
  • What is your job?
  • What is the name/address/phone number of your employer?
  • Have you any accounts at, for example, any bank/building society/credit union? For each account give details, including:
    • name of bank and type of account
    • account number
    • present balance of account.

If an account is held jointly, state name/address/phone number of each person with whom the account is jointly held.

  • How much cash-in-hand do you have?
  • Have you any personal property or assets not mentioned before, including:
    • other deposits
    • investments
    • shares
    • debentures, for example, certificates or vouchers acknowledging a debt
    • a life insurance policy held in your own name or jointly with another person or persons.

Give details of all such property/assets. If held jointly, state name/address/phone number of each person involved.

  • What income do you get after income tax is deducted? Is this income received weekly/fortnightly/monthly or otherwise?
  • What other sources of income do you have? Give details of all sources and amounts.
  • What are the regular weekly expenses of running your household, including:
    • rent/mortgage
    • food
    • gas/electricity
    • clothing
    • hire purchase (give details of amount you owe)
    • credit card repayments (give details of amount you owe)
    • other (and what) expenses, and from whose money are each of these items of expense paid?
  • Are there any other people who contribute to the household expenses? If so, give details of the source and the amount.
  • Are there any other ‘unsatisfied judgments’ against you? If so, give details of each judgment, including:
    • name/address/phone number of ‘judgment creditor’
    • date of judgment
    • amount outstanding
    • reference number (if any).
  • What other debts and liabilities do you have? Give details.
  • Do you have a proposal to pay the amount claimed by the judgment creditor?

Take some time to work out your answers in advance.

Answering how you will repay the debt

If you have filled out a statement of finances you will know what you can afford to pay.

Do not feel pressured to offer a repayment at this examination if you cannot afford it. It is alright to say you do not know how you will repay the debt.

Make sure any offers to repay your debts are realistic for you. Think about your other financial commitments.

Other support

Find out how you can other support for debt and bankruptcy.