Entry of Default Law & Legal Definition


In law, “default” refers to the failure of a party to do something that the law required him to do. A default occurs when a person who is required to be present before the court of law for some proceedings before it, fails to appear in court.

Entry of default refers to the process where the person making a claim in a case makes a request before a court of law stating that the party against whom they have made a claim have failed to furnish any meaningful response to the claimant’s pleadings within the time allowed for that. The court may immediately enter a judgment on the claim or may direct the claimant to file a notice of intent to take the default judgment and serve it on the unresponsive party. If the other party does not oppose the notice of intent or does not provide adequate justification for his delay or lack of response in the matter before the court, the court grants a default judgment favoring the claimant/ plaintiff. Entry of Default in the US District Courts is governed by Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

USCS Fed Rules Civ Proc R 55 reads as follows:

Rule 55. Default; Default Judgment [Caution: For amendments effective December 1, 2009, see prospective amendment note to this rule.]

(a) Entering a Default. When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default.

(b) Entering a Default Judgment.

(1) By the Clerk. If the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by computation, the clerk--on the plaintiff's request, with an affidavit showing the amount due--must enter judgment for that amount and costs against a defendant who has been defaulted for not appearing and who is neither a minor nor an incompetent person.

(2) By the Court. In all other cases, the party must apply for a default judgment. A default judgment may be entered against a minor or incompetent person only if represented by a general guardian, conservator, or other like fiduciary who has appeared. If the party against whom a default judgment is sought has appeared personally or by a representative, that party or its representative must be served with written notice of the application at least 3 days before the hearing. The court may conduct hearings or make referrals--preserving any federal statutory right to a jury trial--when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to: (A) conduct an accounting; (B) determine the amount of damages; (C) establish the truth of any allegation by evidence; or (D) investigate any other matter.

(c) Setting Aside a Default or a Default Judgment. The court may set aside an entry of default for good cause, and it may set aside a default judgment under Rule 60(b).

(d) Judgment Against the United States. A default judgment may be entered against the United States, its officers, or its agencies only if the claimant establishes a claim or right to relief by evidence that satisfies the court.