So what exactly is my Domicilium Citandi?

Quite often when completing a form or signing a contract one comes across a clause, usually at the end, that refers to a domicilium citandi et executandi. This so-called domicilium clause is found even in documents as simple as, for instance, the form one would complete when visiting a new doctor for the first time. If a person were to ask someone what they thought the term meant, the answer would most probably be something like, “It’s just your address”. But is this correct?

Domicilium citandi et executandi is a Latin term which, if directly translated to English, means “house for summoning and upkeep”. The general meaning thereof can be construed as the address nominated by a party in a legal contract at which it elects to receive all legal notices and documents.

Completing such a clause in a contract or form has specific legal consequences that everyone should be aware of, such as:

  • The party who elected the domicilium address should be ready to receive any legal notice that is delivered to that address.
  • If a change in address occurs, a party should notify the other contracting party, preferably in writing, of such a change in address.
  • Delivery of a legal notice or document to the domicilium address chosen by a party to a contract will be considered sufficient for the purposes of legal action and such party would be deemed to have received the legal notice or document.

The last point above should not be taken lightly. The practical consequence thereof is, for instance, that a contracting party may deliver a letter of demand and a summons to the domicilium address, and whether or not it was actually received by the other party, he may proceed to obtain a judgment as he does not have to prove that the documents was received but merely that it was delivered to the correct address.

It accordingly goes without saying that it is pivotal that a person chooses its domicilium address wisely. In this regard the following tips might be useful when considering a domicilium address:

  • Choose the address at which you permanently reside.
  • If you have changed your residence, inform all contracting parties of the change in residence in writing and keep a record of such.
  • If you know that you will be absent from the address for a period of time, inform whoever is looking after the property or address to immediately inform you of the receipt of any legal notice or document.
  • Request that any legal notice or document that is served on your address, also be sent to your e-mail address or fax number.
  • And lastly, if you choose an address where you are not permanently residing, for example a property which is being leased out, request the tenant to inform you of the receipt of any legal notice or document as soon as possible.

* This article does not deal with the requirements of service of notices in terms of the National Credit Act.

April 6, 2014
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