A default judgment is when the court makes an order without having a hearing. This occurs when the defendant does not respond to a complaint.
You can apply to the court for a default judgment if you filed and served a complaint and the defendant has not:
- paid the money outlined in your complaint or returned the goods owed to you
- filed a defence.
You must wait 21 days after the complaint is served on the defendant. If a defence is filed, you cannot apply for a default judgment.
The Magistrates’ Court can dismiss a complaint if a defence or default judgment isn’t filed within 12 months of the original complaint being made. A new complaint would need to be filed with the court after 12 months.
Court can be a complex and costly process and you should seek legal advice before applying for a default judgment. The steps below provide general information about the default judgment process. It does not cover all scenarios.
STEP 1: Complete forms
Fill in an application for order in default of defence - Form 21A to make an order against the defendant.
An affidavit in support of application is also required if the complaint is for something other than a debt or liquidated demand - a debt where the amount owing is known.
An affidavit in support of an application is not required if the claim is for a debt or liquidated demand or a claim arising out of a motor vehicle accident for the cost of repairs or total loss of the vehicle only.
Form of affidavits in support of a default judgment application
Where an affidavit in support is to be filed, strict compliance with Order 43 of the Magistrates’ Court General Civil Procedure Rules 2020 is required.
This means that:
- the affidavit must only contain facts within the deponent’s own knowledge; and
- an affidavit based on information and belief is not permitted.
The affidavit must be witnessed and sworn or affirmed in the presence of an authorised person before it is filed with the Magistrates’ Court. Refer to the witnessing documents page for more information.
It is a criminal offence to provide false or incorrect information in an affidavit. You should seek legal advice if you have any questions about the process.
STEP 2: File the forms
File a completed application for order in default of defence form and affidavit in support of application – if required – with the Magistrates’ Court where the complaint was made.
If you have not done so already, you must also file a:
- affidavit of service - Form 6A
- overarching obligations certification - Form 4A
- proper basis certification - Form 4B.
See the starting a civil matter page for information about these requirements.
The forms can be filed in person or by post. A filing fee is also payable upon lodgement.
What happens next?
A registrar or judicial officer will consider the application and notify you of the outcome in writing. You may then take steps to get the money or goods owed to you. This is called enforcement. See the enforcement of civil debt page for more information.
- Complete a:
File with the Magistrates’ Court, where the original complaint was made an:
- application for order in default of defence
- affidavit of verification – if required
If you haven’t already done so already, you must also file a:
- copy of the affidavit of service – used to issue the original complaint.
- overarching obligations certification
- proper basis certification.
A filling fee is payable upon lodgement of the forms.
This is not a full list of legislation associated with this topic. See the Victorian Government's legislation website for more information.