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A default judgement has been entered against me in Court – what now?

If a default judgement has been entered against you in Court then you will probably have a number of questions. First of all, don’t panic. This short guide will tell you everything you need to know…

What is a default judgment?

It is where the court issues a judgment against a Defendant without the merits of the claim being heard and without a response from the Defendant.

So essentially, in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules 12.1 you as the defendant have failed to:

a. File an acknowledgment of service
b. File a defence

A default judgement has been entered against me in Court. What do I do now?

The solution: to apply to set aside the default judgment in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) 13.3. In order to do this, you must act promptly and apply to the court to set aside the judgment.

The court must set aside the judgment if the Defendant:

a. Has paid the whole amount owed (including any interest and costs) before the date the creditor entered judgment;
b. Sent back the acknowledgment of service form within the time limit; or
c. Put in a defence within the time limit.

The court must set aside the judgment in these circumstances.

The court may set aside the judgment if:

a. The defendant has a real prospect of successfully defending the claim
The Court will not set judgment aside simply because it has been asked to do so – the Defendant needs to show that they have a defence which may succeed at trial; otherwise, it makes sense for the judgment to stand given there is unlikely to be a different outcome if the proceedings are allowed to continue.

b. It appears to the court that there is a good reason why –
(i) The judgment should be set aside or varied, or;
(ii) The defendant should be allowed to defend their claim
What the court considers “a good reason” will again vary from case to case. There is no prescribed list of reasons and the courts will look at the circumstances and context of each particular case, even where that context is highly unusual or even novel.

Keep in mind:

  • It is important that you provide strong evidence to the court in order for you to satisfy the grounds for setting judgment aside. This will require you to explain what your defence is and why you have reasonable prospects of defending the claim.
  • The rules specifically state that in considering whether to set aside a judgment, the court must have regard to whether the person seeking to set aside the judgment acted promptly (as soon as possible). This is a required for the court to consider agreeing to the application and therefore it is important that an application to set aside judgment is made promptly. Promptness usually being measured from the point the defendant becomes aware of the default judgment.
  • For these reasons it is best to seek legal advice in order to successfully be able to set aside the judgment, keeping in mind you only likely to have one opportunity to do so successfully.

If you would like to find out more or speak to one of our experts then you can contact our Litigation Solicitors by clicking here.

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