This article will provide guidance on Antigua Process Service Rules and Laws. Antigua is an island in the Lesser Antilles known as Waladli or Wadadli by its indigenous people. On November 1st, 1981, Antigua and Barbuda achieved independence and joined the Commonwealth of Nations. Click here for How the Hague Convention Simplifies International Process Service.

The island has six civil parishes, though it should be noted that the parishes lack any municipal administration. With its seat at Castries, St. Lucia (formerly known as the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court), the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court oversees the judicial system of the region’s member states, including Antigua and Barbuda. Click here for Antigua Process Service Rules and Laws


Two branches of the judiciary are included in this system: the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal. The nineteen High Court judges live among the nine-member nations and serve in the country’s court of summary jurisdiction. At the same time, the chief justice and the four justices of appeal are situated at the court’s headquarters. The magistrate’s court is the lower court that hears less severe matters. The Appeals Court travels across the country. Fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as constitutional problems, are within the purview of the High Court. Click here for information on How The Central Authority Works in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Court is held before one Judge who has full power and authority to hear and determine, in a summary manner and without the intervention of a jury, all disputes and differences between parties. Except for cases involving malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, libel, slander, seduction, or breach of promise of marriage, the Court does have jurisdiction over any other kind of civil action.  If there are exceptional circumstances, the court in question must have the highest level of jurisdiction. 

However, within the jurisdiction conferred, if the Court decides that a case ought to be tried in the High Court, it is lawful for the Court to order that the suit be transferred to the High Court. Once this is done, the Clerk will annex to the writ of summons an office copy of such order and should transmit the same, together with any documents filed in the cause, to the High Court.

All expenses incurred by the lower court in this action must be considered costs in the cause. If the amount in controversy does not exceed three thousand dollars,  the High Court has subject matter jurisdiction over any action brought before it; the suit may be brought in the High Court.

If the first day of the month falls on a Sunday or a public holiday, the Court will meet the following day that is not a Sunday or a public holiday. The Court conducts sittings in Antigua at the Court House in the City of Saint John’s on the first day of each month of the year. Whenever the Judge deems it necessary or advisable to do so, they may schedule a special sitting of the Court for the hearing and determination of any cause provided that at least three days’ notice thereof is given by affixing such notice outside the Court House at the place where such special sitting is to be held and upon similar notice being given to the plaintiff and defendant by the Clerk. Click here for the Civil Procedure Rules in Antigua.


The Clerk is authorized to administer oaths and other solemn declarations or affirmations in place of oaths. All expenses bills should be taxed by the Clerk by the scale of fees then in place, subject to reconsideration of such taxation on brief application to a Judge in Chambers.

The Clerk has the authority to [A.] open, adjourn, and close the Court; [B.]  hear, determine, and order judgment in all undisputed cases of contract within the Court’s jurisdiction; and [C.] hear, determine, and give judgment, in default of appearance on either party or parties, in the same matters at the next general, or unique, sitting of the Court in the same place.

The Clerk is not required to take any action and may submit any such application to a Judge for a determination. Further, the Clerk cannot hear or decide any judgment debtor, garnishee, or interpleader summons.


A writ of summons in the form to that, as circumstances, permit, duly filled up with the particulars in the said form prescribed and served within Antigua and Barbuda at least six days before the day on which the defendant is required to appear and, in default of such service within the twelfth day before the day on which the defendant is required to appear and, in default of such service within the twelfth day before the day on which the defendant is served. 

A copy of the writ, order, or document to be served shall be delivered to the defendant or other person to be served or to his attorney on record or may be left with a proper person at the defendant’s usual or last known place of abode or business. If service is to be made outside of Antigua and Barbuda, or if service cannot be made in those above, the Clerk may order service as he deems appropriate. Where service has been made within Antigua and Barbuda, the original writ, order, or other documents should be returned immediately to the Court. The defendant need not make an appearance for the said writ. Instead, the suit will be heard and decided summarily without written pleadings after it has been served on the defendant. However, the judge still has the power to direct the plaintiff to provide more information about his claim or to file a written statement within a specific time.

A defendant must give the plaintiff and his attorney at least seventy-two hours’ written notice before raising a special defense like ‘set off,’ ‘illegality,’ ‘want of consideration,’ or ‘the limitation of the suit.’ In its discretion, the Court may enter the judgment of nonsuit or postpone the hearing if the plaintiff fails to present for the hearing of the suit. If the defendant does not show up to court and it can be proven that the writ was served correctly, the court can decide the case without him or her present, a process known as ‘ex parte,’ or adjourn the case for further proceedings. If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff without the defendant, the defendant can appeal the decision if they believe there is a meritorious defense to the case.

No single cause of action shall be the basis for two or more separate actions to bring those cases within the Court’s jurisdiction. However, if the Court determines that the plaintiff, in any case, has split their cause of action as aforesaid, the Court shall dismiss the said action without prejudice. 

 If a defendant successfully raises setoff or counterclaim in response to a plaintiff’s claim, the court may enter judgment in the defendant’s favor for the amount of the setoff or counterclaim or may otherwise grant the defendant whatever relief they are entitled to based on the merits of the case.

Written by: Undisputed Legal Inc.

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Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist receives all documents.


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2. The court mostly addresses any party touching any matter of debt, breach of covenant or contract or promise, injury to the person, or other matter, provided the debt or damages or balance sought to be recovered shall not exceed three thousand dollars

3. The Court does have jurisdiction in any situations involving ‘rules of equity, and where there is a dispute between the Law and the rules of equity, the rules of equity shall dominate and control the proceedings before the Court.

4. The Court may order the boundary or any points therein which may be in dispute to be ascertained and reproduced on a plan to determine the extent of any trespass, the proper determination of the issues in dispute before it, or for any other reason. 

(2) Each party to the action must deposit with the Clerk his pro rata share of the expenditures of the survey before the survey is undertaken, and the Clerk shall distribute the funds to the parties as part of the costs of the action.

(3) Once completed, the plan must be filed with the Clerk, and the parties to the case may cross-examine the surveyor on its contents.

The case will be dismissed if the plaintiff does not pay his portion of the survey costs within 30 days of the court’s order. However, if the plaintiff applies to the court and pays his portion of the costs within 21 days of the dismissal, the case can be reinstated.

If the defendant fails to pay his share of the costs within the allotted time and the plaintiff is willing to pay them on his own. The Court may, after notice to the defendant, allow the plaintiff to deposit the entire cost of the survey with the Clerk, and the defendant will not be entitled to the costs of the action if he wins.

5. Civil actions that fall within the jurisdiction of Magistrates as defined by any Act now in effect in Antigua and Barbuda.

  1. Trespass and property ownership disputes must be resolved by the court, which must have complete authority and jurisdiction over such matters.
  2. Determine cases of trespass and land title if the amount in dispute does not exceed $3,000 without a jury trial.
  3. But if the defendant contests the property’s worth, the judge may investigate and determine it before taking the case. That assessment will be binding for the purposes of determining whether or not the judge has jurisdiction.

6. Unless the presiding Judge certifies that the suit was a fit and proper one to be instituted in the High Court, or unless the same was so instituted under the last preceding section, the plaintiff in any action brought in a court established by this Act shall be responsible for all costs of the action; provided, however, that nothing in this subsection shall apply to actions seeking unliquidated damages if the amount recovered does not exceed $500.

7. The clerk is also authorized to issue summonses and to hear and dispose of in Chambers all such unopposed applications arising in any case; 

  1. To exercise the powers conferred on a Judge by section 41 in all cases where he shall, under the powers conferred by the last preceding subsection, order judgment;
  2. In all cases where he shall, under the powers conferred by the last preceding subsection, order judgment, to exercise the powers conferred on a Judge by section 41; and 
  3. To exercise the powers conferred.

8. otherwise, it shall be returned at such time as the Clerk may especially direct, with an indorsement thereon, in all cases, of the place, time, and mode of service.

9. If the defendant does raise a special defense like ‘set off,’ ‘illegality,’ ‘want of consideration,’ or ‘the limitation of the suit,’ the plaintiff and his attorney will need to agree to the special defense, or the court will have to grant leave for the defendant to raise the special defense.

10. All applications to the Court or in Chambers, which may be necessary for any suit, may be made verbally and without any preliminary formality. Any executor or administrator may sue or be sued in the Court, and judgment and execution shall be such as, in the like case, would be given or issued in the Supreme Court.

11. Mutual debts and liquidated demands may be set off against each other. Where a defendant raises a defense by way of set-off that the Court determines is not admissible as set off, the Court may, on his application, either before or at the hearing, give him liberty to withdraw such defense and to bring a cross-suit, and may make such order for the hearing of the suit and cross-suit, together or otherwise, on such terms, as to costs.

12. Whenever any action or proceeding before the Court involves matters of an account that cannot be conveniently investigated ordinarily, the Judge may, with the consent of both parties, refer such matter of account to any competent person for a report thereon, and may, from time to time, remit such report to the referee for reconsideration, and may determine the action or proceeding before the Court in accordance with the report. Any cash awarded by the judge as compensation for the referee may be considered costs in the case and must be paid by the prevailing party at the dates and in the amounts specified by the court. This obligation may be enforced in the same way as the need to pay other costs.

13. Upon the application of the plaintiff in action for the detention of any chattel, the Court may, at its discretion, issue an order for the specific delivery of the chattel in question without giving the defendant the option of paying the value assessed or otherwise agreed upon; and, in case the defendant refuses to comply with such order, the Court may order him to be imprisoned for any term, not exceeding three months, and execution may be issued against him.


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