When faced with litigation, maintaining your silence is not an option and you should take legal advice straight away. In one case, a failure to respond to legal documents left a man facing a £4.1 million judgment without having put forward any defence to the claim.
In the midst of a bitter family dispute, the man had been accused by his brother of removing over £2.6 million from their mother’s Swiss bank account without her authority. The man lived abroad at an address which was unknown to his brother but, with the permission of a judge, he was served with the proceedings by email.
He made no answer to the email, which he claimed not to have received. In those circumstances, however, his brother obtained a default judgment against him for a total of £4,105,106, including interest. After hearing of the judgment, the man delayed a further 13 months before applying to the High Court to set it aside.
The Court accepted that the man would have had a real prospect of successfully defending the claim. In dismissing his application, however, the Court found that he had put forward no sufficient justification for the very substantial delay in lodging the same. Other arguments, including that he had not been properly served, were also rejected. The decision meant that the judgment was enforceable against him in full.