Court Deadlines Are Strict – Comply With Them or Risk Judgment Being Entered Against You
If a formal court claim is made against you, you must take prompt action by acknowledging service and serving your defence. If you don’t do this within the strict court deadlines, you might lose your chance to defend the claim.
A recent case has given a stark warning to defendants who delay responding to a claim. If you do not serve a defence, the claimant can obtain judgment against you – even if you file your defence late.
Recent Case Decision on Entering Judgment “in Default”
In Billington -v- Davies  EWHC 1919 (CH), the defendant did not serve its defence to a claim until several months after the deadline. In fact, it served its defence only days before the claimant’s application to enter judgment in default was to be heard.
At the hearing, the defendant explained that it had not had sufficient funds to serve the defence any earlier and that the parties had been negotiating. The court regarded neither of these as a good reason for the delay and refused an extension of time for the defendant to serve its defence. Instead, the court decided that the claimant was entitled to judgment in default of service of the defence.
The defendant’s failure to serve its defence meant that it lost its right to defend itself against the claim.
What Do Defendants Need to Think About? (Some Tips)
Before Billington, it was generally thought that a defendant in Davies’ position could get judgment set aside to enable him to defend the claim. The court is now taking a stricter approach. This means that defendants must be even more vigilant about complying with the court’s timetable for court proceedings.
If you have received a formal claim form, you should consider the following:
- Do not ignore it! Compliance with court deadlines is crucial!
- Confirm that you have received the claim by acknowledging its service. You do this by completing and returning the formal “acknowledgement of service” that the claimant should have sent to you with the claim.
- Make a note of the date by which you must serve the defence – and start preparing it straight away. Ensure you allow enough time for the defence to arrive/be served.
- Seek advice as early as possible. We can help you decide whether the claim has merit and should be settled – or whether you have a good defence. We can also ensure you meet the court deadlines.
Setting Aside a County Court Judgment
What if you are too late and judgment has been entered?
Receiving a court judgment against you is an unpleasant experience. It is even worse if you believe it should not have been made in the first place. In certain circumstances, there is action you can take to set aside the judgment.
If judgment has already been served against you, there may still be a chance to get the judgment set aside. This will depend on the particular circumstances.
For example, as can be seen in the Billington -v- Davies case, a delay caused by a lack of funds might not be a good enough reason for judgment to be set aside.
More Information About Setting Aside Judgments
You can read more about setting aside judgments here.
We also have a couple of short guides with checklists that might help you.
- To find out how to deal with a claim form document, read: Has someone served a court, claim form document on you.
- To find out how to deal with a CCJ, read: A checklist to help you deal with County Court Judgments.
If you have received a claim form or had judgment entered against you in default, we can explain your options and help you decide on the best way forward.
For more information, contact Christopher Burke on 0161 684 6941 or make an enquiry.Subscribe to our newsletter
Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.