CLOSE to 30,000 people end up before the district courts every year.
A bank or credit union can issue a civil summons ordering you to attend court if you fail to pay a debt.
If you owe less than €6,350, you will be summoned to appear in the district court. Owe more than this, but less than €38,091, and you could find yourself in the circuit court.
The summons will usually be served in person at your home or by registered post.
The lender must prove to the court that you got the summons.
If you do not indicate that you intend to defend yourself in court, there will not be a hearing and the creditor will get a judgment in their favour that you owe the money.
This will be for the amount owed, plus the cost of court proceedings.
The creditor will then be entitled to enforce the judgment and interest of 8pc applies from the day it is given.
If you defend the proceedings, but still lose, the judge may make an order forcing you to repay the debt in weekly or monthly instalments.
You will be required to fill out a statement of means setting out your income and all your expenses. The judge uses this to assess how much you can repay.
If you fail to meet this instalment order, the credit union or bank may look for a committal order, which would commit you to prison. If you fail to turn up in court after a committal order has been issued, you could be arrested.