Setting aside a default judgment – a checklist

A common theme among instructions for lawyers who deal with money claims is that of default county court judgments (CCJs). These are judgments obtained by one party against another who has failed to do something, usually failing to reply, defend, or pay the amount claimed. A court will typically issue a default judgment without checking the merits of a claim, which can be viewed as unfair by a defendant who would have otherwise been successful in defending it.

It therefore follows that the “losing party” to a default judgment is, of right, entitled to apply to have it set aside.

A default judgment “must” be set aside if it has been “wrongly entered”, even if there is no defence on the merits. These situations include, but are not limited to:

  • The Defendant filed an Acknowledgement of Service within the time limits given;
  • The Defendant applied for summary judgment before default judgment was entered;
  • The Defendant filed an admission and request for time to pay before default judgment was entered; or
  • The Defendant satisfied the whole of the claim before judgment was entered

In other cases, a default judgment “may” be set aside by the discretion of the court in the following circumstances:

  • The Defendant has a real prospect of successfully defending the claim; or
  • It appears to the court that there is some other good reason why the judgment should be set aside, or the Defendant should be allowed to defend the claim.

There are other rules which will be considered by the court in these situations, and the process (and resulting hearing) is far from simple. For instance, the court looks at whether an application was made promptly.

If you have received a default judgment, it is important that you seek legal advice quickly, and ensure an application is made to have it set aside if appropriate. We are specialists in litigation and can advise you on your prospects of success, and how to draft your application in a way that ensures you the best chance at success.

Our litigation executive, Daniel Tetsell, handles applications of this nature on a regular basis, and can advise you on your options, and is able to draft applications for you. He can be contacted on 01905 730462 or by email, on

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