Judgment is intended to bring proceedings to an end, although in some cases judgments can be set aside or appealed. Judgment can be obtained with or without going to trial.
Default judgment

Time's upJudgment in default gives judgment in favour of the claimant without the need for a trial. It is intended to save time, resources and costs. Default judgment can be requested when the defendant does not respond to the claim or, more rarely, when the defendant files are acknowledgment of service but neglects to file a defence.

A large number of civil claims are simple debt recovery claims where there is often no dispute to the fact that goods or services were purchased and not paid for. The majority of money claims end in default judgment due to non response to the claim. Once the time for responding to the claim has elapsed, the claimant can request default judgment.

Default judgment is a purely administrative procedure that does not involve looking at the merits of the case.
Because default judgment is not based on whether a claim has merit or not, it is possible to get judgment for a debt that had been paid, is statute barred or even when the claimant got the wrong defendant on the claim.
When there is a valid defence to the claim, it may be possible to apply to get a default judgment set aside. See set aside for more information.

Part 12 of the CPR supplemented by Practice Direction 12 deals with the process for requesting and obtaining default judgment.

Default judgment

1.1  A default judgment is judgment without a trial where a defendant has failed to file either:

(1) an acknowledgment of service, or

(2) a defence.

For this purpose a defence includes any document purporting to be a defence.

Default judgment by request

3.1  Requests for default judgment;

(1) in respect of a claim for a specified amount of money or for the delivery of goods where the defendant will be given the alternative of paying a specified sum representing their value, or for fixed costs only, must be in Form N205A or N225,


4.1  Both on a request and on an application for default judgment the court must be satisfied that:

(1) the particulars of claim have been served on the defendant (a certificate of service on the court file will be sufficient evidence),

(2) either the defendant has not filed an acknowledgment of service or has not filed a defence and that in either case the relevant period for doing so has expired,

(3) the defendant has not satisfied the claim, and

(4) the defendant has not returned an admission to the claimant under rule 14.4 or filed an admission with the court under rule 14.6.

Most default judgments are made forthwith, which means the full value of the judgment is payable immediately. If you are unable to satisfy the judgment, you need to apply for a variation or redetermination. See variations.

Your options

If you have received a default judgment, you can:
  • Pay the judgment in full within one month if you are able to. This will prevent it from being recorded on the public registry and on your credit files.

  • Apply for a redetermination (within 16 days, no fee required) or a variation (a fee is payable) of the terms to enable you to pay it back in installments. A CCJ will be recorded on the registry.

  • Apply to have it set aside, provided you can show the court you have grounds for defending the claim. A fee is payable.

Summary judgment

enforcementSummary judgment can be applied for by either party or used by the court of its own initiative to save time and resources where cases are considered hopeless. When a party applies for summary judgment, the burden of proof is on the applicant to show that the other side’s case has no prospect of success.

Applications for summary judgment are decided on whether the respondent’s case has any real prospect of success. The court can decide to strike out either the particulars of claim or the defence wholly or in part. See strike out.

Summary judgment is usually granted when the particulars of claim show no clear cause for bringing a claim (such as “The defendant owes me £500”) or the defence consists of bare denials (such as “I don’t owe the money”).


Summary judgment can only be applied for after the defendant has filed an acknowledgment of service or a defence. The most appropriate time is between acknowledgment of service and filing directions questionnaires to avoid further costs being incurred. If either party states their intention to apply for summary judgment when filing their directions questionnaire, the court will usually hold an allocation hearing during which the summary judgment application may also be heard.

Possible outcomes

Range of orders available on a summary judgment application

  • application dismissed  no judgment entered;
  • particulars of claim struck out – claim is dismissed;
  • summary judgment granted;
  • conditional order; and
  • summary judgment subject to a stay.

Positive or negative?

Application by claimant

  • Judgment in their favour which is enforceable in the same way as a default judgment or judgment obtained at trial.
  • Application dismissed – the case continues to trial so it’s not the end of the claimant’s case.

Application by defendant

  • Claim struck out and dismissed – the case does not proceed any further.
  • Application dismissed – the case proceeds to trial.

Opposing a summary judgment application

If the claimant applies for summary judgment, a defendant can respond with a witness statement mentioning:

  • a defence with merits;
  • a point of law that goes against the claimant’s cause of action;
  • a denial of the claimant’s facts; or
  • further arguments against the claimant’s cause of action.

If the defendant has a defence only against part of the claim, the court may grant judgment for the part for which there is no defence.

Conditional orders and judgments subject to a stay are made when there are other issues to be determined, which would affect the claim, for example a counterclaim.

Judgment made at a hearing

This is the most traditional form of judgment and the one that always comes to mind, however, it is also the least common. As previously noted, the majority of money claims end in default judgment. A few claims are defended merely with the intention of buying time without there being a real prospect of defence and can be decided by summary judgment.

Possible outcomes





ClaimantPre-trialSummary judgmentCase struck out
At trialJudgment in their favourCase dismissed
DefendantPre-trialCase discontinuedSummary judgment
At trialCase dismissedJudgment against him/her

Most defended claims where the claimant hasn’t got a strong case end in discontinuance; those where the defendant doesn’t have a good chance of winning are often settled. See settlement and ADR.

A money judgment must be complied with within 14 days of the order. The court make make a different order, such as to pay by installments. The order should have the following:

  • the total amount of the judgment;
  • the amount of each installment;
  • the number of installments;
  • the date on which installment should be paid; and
  • to whom the payments should be made.
WarningUnless it’s paid in full within one month, the judgment will be recorded on the Registry Trust, where it will stay for six years. Unlike your credit files, the registry is public and searchable by anyone upon payment of a small fee.

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