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Default judgment​​

A default judgment is when the court makes a judgment against the defendant without having a hearing in​​ court because the defendant did not respond to the statement of claim. ​​

    When can you apply f​or default judgment?

    You can apply to the court for a default judgment, if you filed and served a statement of claim and the defendant hasn't:

    • ​​​​​paid the money or returned the goods you are claiming
    • filed a defence, or
    • filed an acknowledgement of liquidated claim form (for a money claim only). 

    You must wait until 28 days after the statement of claim was served. Once the defendant has filed a defence, you cannot get a default judgment.

    Handy hintIf you don't apply for a default judgment within nine months of filing the statement of claim, and nothing else happens in your case, the court can dismiss your case because nothing has been done about it. If this happens, you can restart your case by filing and serving a new statement of claim. Time limits apply.

    Applying for default judgment if there has been part payment or some goods returned.

    If the defendant has paid some of the money you are claiming, or returned some goods, you can still get a default judgment for the money or goods not yet paid or returned.

    If the defendant has paid the original debt or returned the goods, but has not paid fees or any interest, you can get a default judgment for the amount of the interest and fees. 

    Goods claims and default judgment

    If your statement of claim included a claim for payment for the value of the goods or return of the goods you can choose whether you ask for default judgment for payment of money or return of the goods.

    Before deciding which you want to ask for, you should get legal advice​.

    If you apply for default judgment for payment of money equal to the value of the goods, the court will either: 

    • ​​​​​list your case for a brief hearing to decide the value of the goods or
    • make a decision in chambers (without having a hearing) based on the evidence provided.  

    If you choose one option, you may be able to apply to the court to change the order. For example, if you got judgment for the delivery of the goods, and the goods were destroyed before they were delivered to you, you may be able to apply to the court to have the judgment changed to the value of the goods. 

    AlertThis topic only deals with default judgment for return of the goods or payment for the value of the goods. It does not deal with damages for loss of use of the goods, which you may also be able to claim if you lost income because you did not have the goods. If you want to claim damages you should get legal advice.

    ​How to apply for default judgment

    To apply for default judgment, you must file some documents with the court. 

    Default judgment for money

    For more information, see Applying for default judgment - money.

    Default judgment for goods

    For more information, see Applying for default judgment - goods.

    Responding to an application to set aside default judgment

    If a default judgment is made, the defendant may ask the court for the default judgment to be 'set aside'. 

    Setting aside a default judgment means cancelling the judgment and giving the defendant time to file a defence and have the case heard by the court.

    The defendant will usually apply for a stay of proceedings at the same time. A stay of proceedings is an order stopping you from enforcing the judgment until the court has decided the application to set aside the default judgment. 

    To have the default judgment set aside the defendant must show the court that: 

    • ​there is a good reason why they didn't file a defence within 28 days; and
    • they have a bona fide (genuine) defence.   

    For more information, see Responding to an application to set aside default judgment.

    What happens next?

    If you have a default judgment and the defendant still does not respond, there are steps you can take to get the money or goods you are owed. This is called enforcement. For more information, see Enforcement.