We’re often contacted by people who have received a county court default judgment unexpectedly. This is usually from the Northampton County Court because this is the central court for bulk claims. Sometimes, it can be from other courts.
Often, the client was not aware that there was any claim being brought against them, either because the original claim went astray in the post or because of an internal breakdown of communication.
As a result, the court did not receive any response to the claim and entered a judgment automatically. This is known as a judgment in default.
In some cases, if the business had been aware, they would have paid the amount claimed. In other circumstances, they dispute the amount claimed and would have defended it.
Either way, they would have responded to the claim and would have avoided ending up with an order to pay money.
Why do you need to have the default judgment removed?
There are some important reasons why you should get it removed as soon as possible.
It is an order pay money. If it remains in place, you will have to pay it. If you don’t pay, the person bringing the claim against you can take enforcement action to recover the money. This could include bailiffs coming round to seize your goods.
It will be registered in the Registry of County Court Judgments if it is not paid within 28 days. This could have a devastating effect on your ability to obtain credit.
What do you need to do to get the default judgment removed?
There is a procedure for having it removed. This is known as applying to set judgment aside.
When the court MUST set it aside
The court must set judgment aside if it is satisfied that you did not receive the original claim form. However, if the claim form was sent to your registered address but not forwarded for your attention, the court will still treat this as though you did receive it.
You should make sure that, if your registered address is different to your trading address, there is a clear procedure for ensuring that all correspondence is brought to your attention.
Sometimes the court has a discretion…
In some cases, the court has a discretion to set aside the default judgment. The court will need to be persuaded that you have a real prospect of successfully defending the claim or that there is some other good reason why they should set it aside.
This does not mean that there will be a full trial in order to determine whether the judgment should be set aside. Rather, it means that you would need to show sufficient evidence to persuade the court that it should proceed to a proper trial. If the court is not persuaded that you have a real prospect of defending the claim, the judgment will not be set aside.
There are several mistakes that people can make when applying to remove a default judgment. One of the most common is waiting too long.
The court will always consider whether the application has been made promptly. Although there is no precise deadline stated in the Court Rules, we recommend that you apply as soon as possible.