The Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2020 (Statutory Instrument 2020 No. 82 (L. 6) come into force on 6 April 2020.

Amongst the changes which they bring, there is a shift in the approach to the timing of when a judgment in default may be entered under Part 12. CPR 12.3 will be amended to include the phrase, ‘at the date that judgment is entered’ in three key places.

The effect of this change is that an Acknowledgment of Service or Defence which is filed late but before the court enters judgment (that is, after the deadlines set out within CPR 15.4) will preclude the entering of a judgment in default. It de-emphasises the date on which judgment was requested by the Claimant.

This means that if there is a delay between the date on which a request for judgment is made and the date on which judgment is entered, during which either an Acknowledgment of Service or a Defence is filed, then judgment in default may not properly be entered against the Defendant.

Whilst this will not place any additional burden on the Claimant or their representatives, it does mean that the court will look to the date on which the Acknowledgment of Service or Defence was filed, in order to ascertain whether the default judgment was regularly entered or not. It stands to reason that judgments will be set aside on mandatory grounds under CPR 13.2 if it transpires that the response to the claim preceded the entry of judgment.

As a consequence of this change, Claimants will to some degree be at the mercy of the administrative efficiency of the court and the speed of the response time to requests for judgment.

The amended regime is of note to a wide range of practitioners, namely those who routinely issue claims using Part 7 and which are not susceptible to CPR 12.2, that are frequently with no response.