Default Judgments: An Explainer

Perhaps you have heard about default judgments and think it would be a good idea to get one to enforce your debt. But what are they? And when can you apply for one? Find out the answers to these questions and more, by learning about them here.

What is a default judgment?

A default judgment is when a case is decided against the defendant because they did not respond to the statement of claim. Defendants have 28 days to respond to statements of claim. Otherwise they risk having a default judgment against them. Often, default judgments are exercised in cases of debt recovery.

Are there prerequisites for a default judgment?

Yes, besides making a statement of claim, the defendant also has to have not paid their debt owed to you. Furthermore, they must not have filed a defence upon the matter. In cases of unliquidated damages, damages that are unidentifiable, the court will still hold a hearing to assess the amount of damages payable. For liquidated damages, the court will generally award the amount payable under the contract.

What damages do I get?

If it is for debt of money, the damages awarded will be the amount that is owed. However if it is for goods, you can either claim the goods or ask for the value of the goods. If you desire the monetary value of the goods, you will have to attend a hearing to determine the value. You may be able to change your mind at a later stage in some circumstances. You may also be able to get have legal and court costs paid by the absent side.

What responses are available for default judgments?

Firstly, you can negotiate with the other party to see if they are willing to have the default judgment set aside. While unlikely they will agree to this, it will not hurt to ask. If they do not agree to this, you will need to file an application for the judgment to be set aside. You will need to show that you had a reasonable reason for not responding to a statement of claim. Considering the complexity of the legal system, it is best to get legal advice to place yourself in the best possible legal position.


Thus, default judgments are a really good tool to utilise when the other party has failed to show up to court. Make sure you respond to statements of claims so you don’t risk a default judgment being decided against you.

Still unsure? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

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