Setting aside a default judgment

If you have received a default judgment from the county court, it is important to act promptly. Our experienced litigation solicitors can advise you about applying to set aside the judgment and discuss the likely outcome with you.

What is a default judgment?

When someone fails to respond to a Court claim against them, they may have a default judgment, known as a County Court Judgment (CCJ) entered against them without hearing their defence.

To make sure you respond to a claim within the legal timeframe, it is advisable to:

  • Make sure you open your post daily.
  • Arrange to have your post forwarded on to you if you change address.

It is also a good idea to:

  • Keep copies of all your responses to the Claim including paper documents, emails and notes of phone conversations.
  • Keep proof of postage when you post documents.

Can default judgments be set aside?

A default judgment cannot be appealed, but a defendant (the person who has the default judgment against them) can apply to have the Judgment set aside (overturned). However, there are only certain circumstances in which a judge will set aside a default judgment.

To apply to set aside a default judgment a defendant must demonstrate there is a real chance they could reasonably defend the Claim against them.

There may also be grounds for setting aside a default judgment if a defendant did not receive the papers in the first place. This could be due to a change of address, or because they were away from home when the papers arrived.

Any application to set aside a CCJ must be undertaken promptly from the date you became aware of the Judgment.

When must a court set aside a default judgment?

A default judgment must be set aside if the Defendant:

  • Can prove they filed an acknowledgement of service or filed a defence within the time limits.
  • Applied to the court for a summary judgment before the CCJ was entered.
  • Served an admission of liability to the Claimant (the person who made the Claim against them) before the CCJ was entered.
  • Has already settled the Claim.
  • Has applied for the Claimant’s case to be struck out.

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When may a claim for a default judgment be set aside?

If a defendant can demonstrate that they have a reasonable chance of defeating a claim against them a judge may decide to set aside the Judgment. Before appealing a default judgment, it is advisable to have a draft defence prepared so the Court can assess whether there is a reasonable chance of success.

In addition, the Defendant will need to have responded to the default judgment promptly following discovery of the CCJ.  

There may be some other good reason to set aside a CCJ, which is at the discretion of the Judge.

How do you apply to set aside a default judgment?

If you wish to apply to set aside a default judgment it is advisable to contact a solicitor immediately.

The first step will then usually be to contact the Claimant’s solicitor to inform them you wish to defend the Claim. Preparing a strong defence and sending a copy of your proposed defence to the Claimant’s solicitor may persuade them to agree to your application to set aside the judgment.

If the Claimant agrees to your application to set aside the default judgment you can sign a consent order. Although it is a judge, not a claimant, who can only set aside a judgment, but having a consent order in place makes it more likely they will agree. In this case, no court hearing may be necessary, and the CCJ could be set aside quickly and at a reduced cost.

If the Claimant does not agree to your application, but the Judge then sets aside the default judgment, it may be the case the Claimant will be ordered to pay your costs. If your application is unsuccessful, it is more likely that you will have to pay the Claimant’s costs.

Our solicitors can advise you whether you have sufficient grounds to apply to set aside a default judgment.

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What happens if a default judgment is set aside?

If a default judgment is set aside the Defendant is then able to defend the Claim.  The Court will then decide the case unless the Parties agree a resolution between them. 

A Court case can be a costly, time consuming and stressful so it is important that you consider whether it is a reasonable course of action.

If you are a Claimant or a Defendant, our solicitors at Davisons Law can advise you on your options so you can decide what action to take.

Do you need to set aside a default judgment?

Our experienced litigation solicitors can help both individuals and businesses who have had a default judgment entered against them.

We can advise you about your chances of successfully setting aside a default judgment. If you decide to go ahead, we will prepare an application and guide you through the process.

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