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The current Civil Procedure Rules allow for claim forms to be served on a defendant at their usual address if known, or the last known address where the claimant does not know thecurrent address or where the defendant has not provided a current address.If, once served, there is no response to the claim form within the required time limit then the claimant is permitted to request that judgment be entered by default.This results in a County Court Judgment, or CCJ, being registered against the defendant and against the address that was used for service.

Default judgments obtained in this manner, whilst perfectly legal, have led to difficulties for defendants when they find out about the proceedings, sometimes months or years after the judgment has been entered, and for occupiers of addresses used for service of Claim Forms.

The government has therefore launched a consultation as to the effectiveness and appropriateness of the current procedure for money claims issued in the County Court.There are 3 main aspects of the consultation:-

1 It sets out proposals for informing consumers of their rights and responsibilities e.g. how they should keep creditors updated with contact details.

2It seeks views on a proposal to remove an entry in the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines if the judgment is paid immediately one a Defendant knows about it, if the Defendant can satisfy the court that they were unaware of the claim and judgment when originally issued and entered

3It seeks data on instances where a CCJ has been entered because a claimant has deliberately used an old or otherwise incorrect address.

Although the consultation is aimed in particular at those who have had experience of County Court judgments, whether as defendants or claimants, and bodies representing the interests of claimants or defendants, responses will be welcome from anyone interested in the subject matter.An on-line survey can be accessed here - https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/default-county-court-judgments-2/ The consultation closes on 21 February 2018.

After the consultation process has concluded the government will consider whether any changes are needed to the current arrangements and, if so, ask the Civil Procedure Rules Committee to consider the position.It is therefore likely to be some time before any changes are made.

For advice on all aspects of Court procedure contact Ramsdens’ Litigation team on 01484 821 500 or email info@ramsdens.co.uk.