Default judgment—general principles
Default judgment—general principles

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Default judgment—general principles
  • What is a default judgment?
  • At what stage in the proceedings can a default judgment be obtained?
  • Is the claimant required to obtain a default judgment?
  • When default judgment cannot be obtained—type of claim/CPR provision/practice direction
  • When default judgment cannot be obtained—action by the defendant
  • Default judgment and multiple defendants
  • Retrospective service of the claim form
  • Can a default judgment be sought at the same time as alternative service?
  • Conditions for a default judgment
  • More...

A default judgment is also referred to as a judgment in default, judgment in default of acknowledgment of service and judgment in default of defence.

It is important to be familiar with the circumstances in which the court will set aside a judgment in default as if those circumstances exist it may not be worth incurring the expense of an application. For information, see Practice Note: Default judgment—general principles for setting aside.

What is a default judgment?

A default judgment is defined in CPR 12.1 as a judgment without a trial where a defendant has failed to file an acknowledgment of service or has failed to file a defence.

A successful application under CPR 12 will produce a judgment in favour of a claimant without the need to pursue proceedings through to trial. However, it is a judgment given due to a failure to comply with the provisions in the CPR, it is not a judgment on the merits. As a consequence, for practical; reasons in some cases a default judgment may not be the most appropriate course to take, see below: Cross border cases—defendant is overseas.

For information on filing an acknowledgment of service, see Practice Note: Acknowledgment of service.

At what stage in the proceedings can a default judgment be obtained?

CPR 12 and CPR PD 12 sets out the rules and procedure regarding default judgments sought where there

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