Businesses and individuals alike can find themselves being served with a Judgment in Default of an Acknowledgement of Court Proceedings being served. When faced with an Application to Set Aside such a Judgment, the Court considers a number of issues when determining whether it is appropriate to grant the application.
As well as having a defence to the action, another issue is the timely manner in which a Defendant responds to receiving the Judgment. In the case of Avanesov v Shymkentpivo  EWHC 394 (Comm) (25 February 2015), the Claimant obtained Judgment in Default following the Defendant’s failure to acknowledge service. The Order included Judgment for damages to be assessed and provision for the Defendant to apply to set aside or vary the Default Judgment within 21 days. The Defendant was served with an Application for Assessment of Damages and notified of the hearing, but did not respond or attend, and consequently the Claimant obtained Judgment. A month after being served with the damages, and some eight months after the Default Judgment, the Defendant applied to the Court to set aside Judgment.
When the case came before the Court, the Judge placed a great deal of emphasis on the delay taken by the Defendant in making the application. The Defendant had been given 21 days from the date of the initial Judgment and, based upon the evidence before the Court, it appeared that the Defendant had made a conscious decision to ignore the Court proceedings for as long as possible until faced with the Judgment for Damages and the risk of a monetary claim being enforced. The Court refused the Defendant’s application identifying that there was a need to ensure that litigation was conducted efficiently and in compliance with Court Orders. Even a realistic defence was not sufficient to justify setting aside the Judgment.
The Courts will continue to assess the seriousness and significance of the failure of one party to take action and will look carefully at the reasons for it. A failure to act diligently will not find favour in the courtroom. It is vital for anyone finding themselves in receipt of a Judgment in Default to act promptly, or face the consequences.
Feel free to contact myself or my team on 01908 660 966 (Milton Keynes) or 01604 828 282 (Northampton) if you have a Judgment you would like to discuss.