Do you need to pursue a debt in the District Court?
Are you being pursued for a debt?
Confused about what’s involved in obtaining a judgment where the debtor just ignores the Claim Notice and does not enter an Appearance or Defence?
Let’s take a look at what happens then.
If a respondent who has been served with a claim notice in a debt claim does not serve and file an appearance or serve a defence within the time prescribed by Order 42, or within any other time fixed by the Court for serving and filing his or her appearance or for serving his or her defence, you may apply for an order of judgment in default. (The time prescribed by Order 42 is 28 days).
You must file your application with the Clerk and it must be accompanied—
(i) by an affidavit or statutory declaration (Form 41.01, 41.02 or 41.03, Schedule C, as appropriate) of service of the claim notice; and
(ii) by a certificate (Form 47.01, Schedule C), which may be endorsed on the affidavit of debt signed by the claimant’s solicitor or by the claimant (if acting in person) that no appearance, notice requiring particulars or defence has been received from the respondent; and
(iii) by an affidavit of debt verifying the claimant’s claim (Form 47.02 or 47.03, Schedule C, as appropriate); and
(iv) by a form of judgment (decree) (Form 47.04 or 47.05, Schedule C, as appropriate).
Where a respondent has signed a consent to judgment which has been duly witnessed, the applicant may file an affidavit (Form 47.06, Schedule C) verifying the consent instead of an affidavit of debt; and where the consent is to judgment by instalments, the form of judgment (decree) in Form 47.07, Schedule C must be used.
Your affidavit verifying your claim must be sworn (or the certificate referred to above must be given) within one month before the date of the application for judgment. Judgment may not be given where the affidavit verifying the claimant’s claim was not sworn (or the certificate was not given) within one month before the date of the application for judgment.
Where your application for judgment includes a claim in respect of value-added tax, the affidavit (or certificate) must verify whether or not value-added tax is payable by the claimant on his or her legal costs, and if payable whether or not the sum payable is recoverable by the claimant from the Revenue Commissioners.
If you apply for a Judgment as set out above, and a Judge is satisfied that an order should be made, the Judge may make such an order otherwise than at a sitting of the Court, and may fix the amount of costs and interest as is appropriate in the circumstances in accordance with the Schedule of Costs.
If a Judge is not satisfied that an order should be made, the Judge may, or if the claimant so requests, the Judge must, refer the matter to the Court for decision.
If the Judge refers an application to the Court or an application is assigned a return date, the Court may on hearing the application, and any evidence the Court considers appropriate—
(a) make the order sought in the application;
(b) direct that a further affidavit or affidavits be filed;
(c) give directions as to the application;
(d) refuse to make the order sought in the application;
(e) make any other order it considers appropriate.
(6) The Clerk must notify the claimant of any order made by the Judge or (if the application has been referred to the Court) any decision or order of the Court.
Even if you obtain an order for judgment in default against a respondent as set out above you may enforce the order and continue the proceeding against any other respondent. In the event that the claimant recovers by enforcement or otherwise the full amount of his claim including costs against any respondent, further proceedings against any remaining respondent must be stayed save in respect of any further costs as may be claimed against any other respondent.
If a respondent serves a counterclaim which is a debt claim, what’s set out above applies as if—
(a) the respondent were the claimant;
(b) a reference to the appearance in that rule were a reference to the appearance to the counterclaim; and
(c) the claimant were the respondent.
Setting aside judgment by default
A party against whom a judgment in default has been obtained under may apply by notice of motion (Form 44.02 Schedule C with the necessary modifications) to the Court in which the judgment was obtained for an order to vary or set aside the judgment on the ground that the same was obtained by fraud, misrepresentation, surprise, mistake or other sufficient ground.
Service of the notice of motion does not operate as a stay of proceedings unless the respondent lodges with the Clerk the amount for which judgment was given and the amount fixed for costs.
If a party fails to comply with an order made by the Court in civil proceedings, the Court may, where it considers it just to do so, dismiss the civil proceedings or strike out any defence or counterclaim and proceed to give judgment or make any order (including any order for costs) as is then appropriate as if the party in default had not pleaded.
You might also want to read also about how to commence proceedings in the District Court.
Judgment in Default in Non Debt Claims
Order 47A of the District Court rules sets out how to obtain judgment in default in non debt claims.