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Default Judgment

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

A default judgment is a binding judgement made for or against a party when one party to a dispute has failed to take some form of action. The most common type of default judgment occurs when the claimant issues a claim form and serves this on the defendant. If the defendant fails to respond to the particulars of claim within 14 days then the claimant may enter a judgement in default.

Judgments in default are covered by Part 12 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).


Under the CPR default judgment is a judgment without trial where a defendant has either failed to acknowledge service or failed to file a defence. A default judgment cannot be used in claims relating to the Consumer Credit Act 1974, alternative procedures for claims under Part 8 or where they are disallowed by a practice direction.

Required Conditions

The CPR aim to ensure that proceedings are dealt with fairly and expeditiously. Time frames are in place to prevent claims from becoming unduly drawn out; however a claimant cannot file for judgment in default before certain conditions are met. The following conditions apply:

  • Obtaining a judgment in default of an acknowledgement of service requires that:
    • The defendant has not filed and acknowledgement of service or a defence
    • The relevant time limit has expired
  • Judgment in default of defence may be obtained only:
    • Where an acknowledgement of service has been filed but a defence has not been filed and the time limit has expired
    • In a counterclaim made under rule 20.4, where a defence has not been filed and the time limit has expired
  • The claimant may not obtain a default judgment if:
    • o The defendant has applied to have the claimant's statement of case stuck out under rule 3.1 or for summary judgment under Part 24 and that application has not been disposed of
    • o The defendant has satisfied the whole claim on which the claimant is seeking judgment or the claimant is seeking judgment on a claim for money and the defendant has filed an admission of liability to pay along with a request for time to pay


Although the CPR are designed to ensure that cases are dealt with fairly and justly, the timetables and t echnical rules can be traps for the unwary.

If you would like further information about any aspect of litigation procedure or wish to discuss a potential or current claim, we have experienced lawyers on hand who can advise you. Please contact us on 020 7611 4848.