Q: I have just come back home from a 12 month trip to Australia. When I got home I found a number of court documents on my doormat including a County Court Judgement which says that a Judge has awarded against me because I failed to attend a “final hearing”. However, I didn’t even know that I was supposed to be at a hearing and I had no idea that I was being sued! Is there anything I can do about this?
A: Yes. Apply to get the Judgement set aside and do it quickly! In accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules, you have the right to apply to set judgement aside in certain circumstances provided you put an application in promptly. You will need to apply to the Court where the judgement was entered and a hearing will be listed to give you an opportunity to tell the Court why judgement should be set aside.
In your case, you will need to tell the Court that you had no idea that Court proceedings had been issued against you, and provide evidence to show that you had been out of the country. Before the hearing, the Court may also ask that you file a statement detailing your reasons for why the judgement should be set aside.
If you are successful in getting judgement set aside, this does not necessarily mean the proceedings against you will simply disappear as the Court will likely amend the relevant timetables to give you an adequate opportunity to answer the claim being put against you.
Applications to set Judgement aside can often involve a lot of procedural law and document drafting and it would therefore be advisable for you to contact a lawyer with experience in dealing with these matters. Promptness is very important here.