We received a panicked call from the client asking us to defend an application for Judgment in Default. Legal proceedings had been issued by a company (the claimant) against our client and the notice had been served at his previous address.
Our client had emigrated to South America shortly before service of the proceedings and had not, therefore, received the claim against him. As a result, no defence to the claim was filed and the claimant applied to the court for Judgment in Default which not surprisingly, without any action on our client’s part, would have been granted.
The court listed the application for a hearing. The claimant sent that court order to the same residential address, but also to an email address of our client which had been redundant for some time. Our client coincidently checked that email address on another matter and noticed the hearing was happening imminently. Instructions were given by Skype and WhatsApp with 24 hours to go before the hearing itself.
The claim for Judgement in Default was successfully defended by our commercial disputes team on the grounds that:
(i) a Defence was filed on the morning of the hearing and;
(ii) our client’s application for relief from sanction (for breaching court rules) and/or an extension of time for filing the Defence, was satisfied.
The judge agreed with our argument that our client should be allowed to defend the action against him. We even managed to argue successfully against the costs of the application being awarded against our client after the hearing. We made a strong argument why that should not be the case, and the cost issue was deferred to the trial Judge who will ultimately determine the claim at a future date. In the meanwhile, our delighted client has been given breathing space to seek to settle the matter.