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Applying to set aside default judgment

If the debt is a mortgage, loan or credit card you should get legal advice. You may have other options.

A default judgment is a judgment made against you without having a hearing in court. The judgment will say that you must pay the plaintiff an amount of money. The plaintiff can get orders from the court to force you to pay the money.

Sometimes, the first time you find out there is a default judgment against you is when you receive an Examination Notice in the mail, have your wages garnished, or a sheriff comes to your door.

You may have a default judgment against you because:

  • you were not served with the court papers and did not know about the claim against you
  • you were overseas or in hospital when the court papers were served
  • you did not file any documents at court in response to the claim within 28 days
  • you have moved houses.

If you want to defend the claim (tell the court that you do not owe all or part of the money claimed), you may be able to 'set aside' the default judgment. Setting aside a default judgment means cancelling the judgment, giving you an opportunity to file a Defence.

To get the default judgment set aside you have to show:

  • that you have a good reason for not filing your defence within 28 days from the date the plaintiff says they served the claim on you
  • that you have some evidence to support your Defence
  • that you have filed the motion to set aside judgment as soon as possible.

When you apply to set aside the default judgment you can also apply for a stay of proceedings. A stay of proceedings is an order stopping the judgment creditor from enforcing the judgment until your application to set aside the default judgment has been dealt with by the court. This will stop the sheriff from seizing your property or your employer from garnishing your wages during this time. For more information on applying for a stay of proceedings see Stay of proceedings/stay of enforcement.

For more information, see Applying to set aside default judgment - Step by step guide​​.