Summary Summons Not Adequately Pleaded

Published date30 June 2022
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Trials & Appeals & Compensation
Law FirmWilliam Fry
AuthorMs Lisa Carty and Deirdre O'Donovan

In AIB PLC v Dorey [2022] IEHC 317 the plaintiff issued a summary summons on foot of three loans made to the defendant in 2008. It came before the High Court on foot of an application for judgment in default of appearance. Although the application was for judgment in default, with the plaintiff's consent, the High Court (Court) approached the application as one for summary judgment. It followed that the Court had to consider whether the plaintiff had adequately pleaded and proved a prima facie case. The particular issue that was the focus of the Court's judgment was whether the plaintiff's plea in the summary summons was sufficient to satisfy the requirements laid down by the Supreme Court in Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank v O'Malley [2019] IESC 84. O'Malley requires pleadings to specify how a sum allegedly due is calculated (Information Obligation). For further information, see our article on O'Malley here.

The summary summons in Dorey pleaded as follows:

"Short particulars of [the sum due] are set out hereunder and full particulars of the Defendant's indebtedness have previously been notified to him by the delivery from time to time of bank account statements in respect of each of the accounts set out below"

Conflicting Authorities

The Court noted the conflicting judgments on the adequacy of such pleas in a summary summons. Applying O'Malley, the Court said that a plaintiff may plead the calculation of the alleged indebtedness by reference to other documents previously furnished to the defendant. This is an alternative to pleading the calculation in the summary summons itself. The Court placed considerable reliance on an earlier decision of Charleton J that emphasised that the Information Obligation allows debtors to see if mistakes were made, interest overcharged or penalties misapplied.

Holland J referred to post-O'Malley judgments to assess the adequacy of pleas in a summary summons, including:

(i) AIB v Hayden [2020] IEHC 442

In Hayden, summary judgment was granted by Meenan J. The plea in the summons was similar to that made in Dorey. Meenan J was influenced by the fact the defendant had made no complaint about a lack of particulars of the debt, and the plaintiff had exhibited relevant bank statements. Applying the decision in Hayden to Dorey, the plea would suffice.

(ii) AIB v Ahern [2021] IEHC 311

In Ahern, the court granted summary judgment. The relevant plea in the summary summons pleaded the statements sent to the defendants over the loan...

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