DebitorDebt Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law

What is a payment summons?

Debt enforcement and bankruptcy law: I’ve received an unjustified payment summons: what does it mean? 

You’ve been given a payment summons that you find unfounded? Don’t panic!
Lawrence explains what it means and what to do. 

It is a document issued by the Cantonal Bankruptcy Office. It results of a creditor’s claim, who provides the necessary information to establish a lawsuit against you. The Office has neither the duty, nor the competence to verify the claim’s source. This has been the subject of much criticism. 

Upon reception of a payment summons, you have two options: 

  1. A) You acknowledge the claim and must therefore pay it within 20 days following its reception at the Cantonal Bankruptcy Office. You can also repay the debt in several instalments. 
  2. B) You challenge the claim. 

Lack of control over the verification of prosecutions can cause you to be in a delicate situation. A lawsuit remains on any solvency certificate, even 5 years after repayment of the debt, unless the creditor demands its cancellation. 

Thus, if a payment summons seems unjustified, you must declare your opposition orally or in writing to the Bankruptcy Office within 10 days of receiving the document. 

This action suspends the legal proceedings. It will then be up to the creditor to decide whether or not to relaunch them, he will have 1 year to do so (or not). We strongly advise you to contact a lawyer to take the following steps. 

If the creditor does not restart it, the lawsuit will be deleted if you file a motion with the Office of Debt Enforcement. 

If you enter into a dialogue and reach an agreement with your creditor, you can ask him or her to withdraw the lawsuit.


The creditor will be able to relaunch his claim in three ways: 

  1. By a final release 

If court or an administrative authority accepts the payment summons, or the if creditor has evidence. In that case, you’ll have to comply unless you can prove: 

  • Your payment of the debt 
  • The granting a stay of payment 
  • That the debt is overdue because of time 


  1. By provisional release 

Your objection will be lifted if the creditor presents an IOU, a document that you sign acknowledging the amount you owe and when it must be repaid. 

→ Click here to download an IOU template! 

  1. By a procedure “on the merits” 

The creditor has no documents to prove the debt you owe. If he has the resources and the interest, he can then file a motion in court. The judge will decide at a hearing whether or not you have to repay the debt. 

To avoid this kind of inconvenience, it is best to be prepared and to know your rights in the event of an unfounded payment summons.

 Lawrence answers all your questions and assists you in your legal procedures!

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