Cognovit Note Law & Legal Definition


A cognovit note is a confession of judgment given to a plaintiff, agreeing to pay a certain sum. The defendant acknowledges the claims asserted by a plaintiff against him in a complaint are valid and waives all defenses. It is usually given to avoid the expenses of protracted litigation. Laws relating to cognovit notes vary by jurisdiction, and are disallowed in some jurisdictions. Some cognovit notes are enforced by filing an action in court to enforce payment of money, however some contain terms allowing it to be enforced in a method other than by action of court upon a hearing and after personal service upon the debtor. The following is an example of a state statute defining a cognovit note:

"Cognovit note", for purposes of IC 34-54-4, means a negotiable instrument or other written contract to pay money that contains a provision or stipulation:

  1. giving to any person a power of attorney, or authority as attorney, for the maker, endorser, assignor, or other person liable on the negotiable instrument or contract, and in the name of the maker, endorser, assignor, or other obligor:
  2. (A) to appear in any court, whether of record or inferior; or

    (B) to waive personal service of process; in any action to enforce payment of money or any part of the money claimed to be due;

  3. authorizing or purporting to authorize an attorney, agent, or other representative, however designated, to confess judgment on the instrument for a sum of money when the sum is to be ascertained, or the judgment is to be rendered or entered otherwise than by action of court upon a hearing after personal service upon the debtor, whether with or without attorney's fee; or
  4. authorizing or purporting to authorize an attorney, agent, or representative to:

(A ) release errors or the right of appeal from any judgment; or

(B) consent to the issuance of execution on the judgment."