Default (law)

In law, a default is the failure to do something required by law. Legal obligations can arise when a response or appearance is required in legal proceedings, after taking out a loan, or as agreed in a contract; failure to carry them out puts one in default of the obligations.

Default in legal proceedingsEdit

Failure to appear at a required time in legal proceedings can constitute a default.

In the United States, for example, when a party has failed to file meaningful response to pleadings within the time allowed, with the result that only one side of a controversy has been presented to the court, the party who has pleaded a claim for relief and received no response may request entry of default. In some jurisdictions the court may proceed to enter judgment immediately: others require that the plaintiff file a notice of intent to take the default judgment and serve it on the unresponsive party. If this notice is not opposed, or no adequate justification for the delay or lack of response is presented, then the plaintiff is entitled to judgment in his favor. Such a judgment is referred to as a "default judgment" and, unless otherwise ordered, has the same effect as a judgment entered in a contested case.

It is possible to vacate or remove the default judgment, depending on the particular state's law.

Entry of default in the United States district courts is governed by Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Financial defaultEdit

A common type of default is failure to meet the financial obligations of a loan. This can occur due to inability to pay, or voluntarily in a strategic default. When the debtor is a government, it is called a sovereign default.