JP in Practice‎ > ‎

15 Issuing a Summons


A summons is a document, issued under the Justices Act 1886, which commands a person to attend court at a prescribed time and place.

There are two types of summons.
  1. A Complaint - Sworn, and Summons is used for indictable offences. This must be sworn or affirmed.
  2. A Complaint - General Purposes - Made, and Summons is usually used for simple offences. This is not sworn.
The Queensland Police Service and some other government departments, such as, The Office of Fair Trading, Queensland Corrective Services - Probation and Parole, Australian Electoral Commission and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries can apply for a summons.

The summons comes in a prescribed form and has three components:
  1. the complaint - the reasons why a summons is necessary
  2. the summons itself, to be signed by the JP
  3. the oath of service - sworn after the summons has been served


  • the defendant is not known to you, or related in any way, otherwise refer to another JP
  • the offence has occurred in Qld
  • the offence exists in Qld law
  • all elements of the offence are included in the Complaint
  • there are three copies of the document, one for the court, one for the defendant and one to accompany the Oath of Service
  • the complaint is made within one year of the offence being committed if it is for a simple offence


The Complaint

  1. Check and note the identification of the complainant.
  2. If it is a sworn summons place the complainant under oath/affirmation.
  3. Read the complaint carefully, ensuring it covers all the elements of the offence.
  4. Ask any questions needed to clarify the offence and the evidence that the defendant is implicated. Keep a record of any further information.
  5. If satisfied, have the complainant sign the complaint, check the signature and sign the complaint, affix seal and registration number. There is no requirement to place your name on the document.

Issuing the Summons

  1. Read the Summons section ensuring it gives the full name and address of the complainant, is dated on the day you are issuing, has the full name, address, date of birth and occupation of the person being served and shows the date, time and place of the court hearing.
  2. Sign the summons, affix seal and registration number. There is no requirement to place your name on the document.

The Oath of Service

When the summons has been served the person who served the summons completes the Oath of Service and swears/affirms this in front of a JP. It does not have to be the JP who issued the summons.

A summons for simple offences is usually served by post. Check that the Oath of Service by post includes a deposition by the complainant that the address is the last known address of the defendant.

For more serious offences the summons is usually handed directly to the person named in the summons.

Summons to be Served on a Witness

This summons does require a written complaint. Check that the witness resides in Qld and the witness is able to give material evidence at the hearing. You may wish to place the person requesting the summons under oath/affirmation. Record questions and information supplied. Follow the same process for issuing a summons (above).


  1. If possible take a copy of the complaint and summons. When this is not possible you should keep detailed records of the complainant, offence, defendant and court appearance.


  1. JP Handbook Chapter 13
  2. QJA Guide Chapter 14