Nobody likes to find out they’ve had a county court default judgment entered against them. It’s an order to pay money, so it mustn’t be ignored. However, in some circumstances, you may be able to have it set aside.
Make sure you act quickly though. Treat it as a priority. The temptation is to put it off and deal with it another day.
Here are a few reasons why you must make your application as soon as you can.
1. It’s affecting your credit rating
Before a lender offers credit to a prospective customer, they will will almost always carry out a credit check. If you’ve received a court order requiring you to pay money, this will have a dramatic effect on your credit rating and is likely to mean you can’t obtain credit.
Trying to persuade the lender that the default judgment is unfair or was wrongly entered won’t help you. While it’s on your credit file, you’ll be serious hindered in any attempts to obtain credit.
A poor credit rating may also affect your ability to find work. Many employers these days carry out a credit check as part of the recruitment process.
2. The claimant could take enforcement action
Whilst the default judgment remains in place, the claimant could take steps to enforce it. This could include:
- bailiffs removing your goods
- a bankruptcy order
- an order to attend court of questioning
In addition, a claimant is entitled to claim 8% interest on the outstanding amount. This means that each day the order remains in place, the amount the claimant could recover from you is increasing.
Applying to set aside judgment doesn’t automatically mean that enforcement action stops. However, a claimant will probably agree to suspend any enforcement until after the court has heard your application.
Act fast to avoid the hassle of bailiffs knocking on your door.
3. The court will consider whether the application has been made promptly when making their decision
The court has a discretion to set the order aside. One of the most important factors they consider when exercising their decision is whether the application has been made promptly.
The word promptly is not defined and will depend on the circumstances of each case. However, some applications fail simply because the defendant waited too long before sending it to the court.
The defendant might try to justify any delay on the basis that:
- they were trying to negotiate with the claimant
- they didn’t know what they were supposed to do
- they thought they needed all the evidence before they made the application
None of these reasons should be relied on as an excuse for not making the application promptly.
Apply straight away with the appropriate court fee. Then gather your evidence and discuss the possibility of a settlement with the claimant.