If you don’t reply to court documents, the county court will issue a default judgment. With no evidence about what you can afford, it may order you to pay the amount in full.
Default judgments: when they happen
If someone (the claimant) thinks you owe them money, they apply to the court for a judgment. You’ll be sent a claim form, together with other court forms to complete.
You must send these back within 14 days (28 days if you apply for more time).
If you don’t, the claimant can apply to the court for a judgment in default. This means that only the claimant’s side of the story is heard.
The claimant is likely to demand the full amount plus fees and interest is ordered to be paid immediately.
A default judgment is binding – the claimant can take steps to have it enforced.
Setting aside a default judgment
You may be able to get a default judgment set aside. This may be possible if you never received the documents, or were in hospital and didn’t know they’d arrived.
You’ll be expected to prove these facts, and pay a fee.
Cases when the court must set aside a default judgment are when you’ve:
- already paid everything you owe (so no judgment is necessary);
- submitted a defence on time ;
- asked for more time to pay (within the time limit for doing so).
This doesn’t mean the case is over – it just means the court will listen to your side of the argument before deciding.
It’s far better, and cheaper, for you to reply to the forms as soon as you get them.
If you’re refused credit and think it maybe because you have a default CCJ against you, you should check the register.
Default judgment vs default notice
A default notice is different to a default judgment.
- Default notice Lenders must send you this before taking you to court over unpaid debts. It’s not a court document – it’s the final step a lender must take before going to court.
- Default judgment This is when the court rules even though it hasn’t heard your side of the story.