Rules of the Superior Courts (Procedure on Default) 2021


New Superior Court Rules on pleadings are to come into effect on the 13th of November 2021 (the “Commencement Date”) under Statutory Instrument Number 490 of 2021 (“SI 490/2021”) to amend the procedure on default in the Superior Courts. 
The Statutory Instrument updates the position on obtaining judgments and orders in default and will encourage a pro-active approach to be taken by all who are party to litigation. 
The most significant updates include limiting the period for a plaintiff to deliver their statement of claim to 8 weeks from service of the initiating proceedings or the entry of an appearance and limiting the time granted to defendants to deliver their defence and counterclaim to 8 weeks. The rules require a 28 day warning letter to be served before bringing a motion for judgment in default or a motion to dismiss.
Further changes include the court’s ability to invoke an Unless Order in matters where a party is granted an extension of time to deliver a statement of claim or defence and counterclaim, and fails to do so.


The updates to the current Rules of the Superior Courts (“RSC”) will operate retrospectively to proceedings that have already commenced as well as proceedings that are deemed expired on or before the 13th of November 2021. However, where steps have already been taken in cases commenced before the Commencement Date and where the periods granted under SI 490/2021 to deliver pleadings are shorter than the current RSC, default cannot be obtained until the longer period expires. Any decision by the court being made on the Commencement Date shall be determined in light of the current RSC.

Steps in Applying for a Judgment in Default:

  1.   Proceedings have been served specifying a time period for a reply, response or action (for example the filing of a summons requires the defendant to file an appearance in response).
  2.   The time period has expired for the defendant to respond.
  3.   An affidavit of service has been filed. 
  4.   The application for judgment in default shall be made by notice of motion.
  5.   The notice of motion shall be returnable not less than 4 clear days after service of the notice.
  6.   The notice of motion can be served personally or by registered post at the defendants last known address.
  7.   In actions to recover a debt or liquidated demand under a credit-sale agreement or guarantee, an affidavit shall be filed with the motion confirming the sum due and that s31 or s58 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995 has been complied with.
  8.   On the return date, directions will be provided or an order in default will be granted.
  9.   The plaintiff shall notify the defendant within 28 days of any judgement being obtained and serve a copy of the order within 28 days from the passing and perfection of such order.


Default of Appearance – Order 13

The plaintiff shall be at liberty to proceed upon default of appearance once the following steps have been followed:

  1.   Notice shall be served upon the defendant in writing confirming the intention. 
  2.   The plaintiff shall provide a letter consenting to the late entry within 28 days of the date of the letter.
  3.   The plaintiff shall file an affidavit of service.
  4.   Upon the expiration of the 28 days, the plaintiff shall be at liberty to proceed upon default of appearance
  • Where no appearance has been entered in proceedings for the recovery of land, the plaintiff shall be at liberty to enter judgment in the Central Office.
  • Where the claim is for a liquidated demand and there are several defendants, of whom one or more file an appearance, the plaintiff may enter final judgment against such defendants that did not appear and issue execution upon such judgement, without affecting his right to proceed against the defendants who did enter an appearance. 
  • Where an originating summons is indorsed with a claim on any bond, covenant, agreement and the defendant fails to appear, no statement shall be delivered and the plaintiff may apply for judgment in default by way of motion.


Statement of Claim – Order 20

  • In actions whereby a plaintiff files a summary summons or special summons, a statement of claim is not required, unless ordered by the court. 
  • In actions whereby a plaintiff files a plenary summons, and a defendant enters an appearance by return, a statement of claim is required and shall be served on the defendant (a) with the plenary summons or (b) within 8 weeks from the service of such plenary summons or within 8 weeks of the defendant requesting same after they have entered an appearance. 
  • If the plaintiff fails to deliver a statement of claim (Order 27 of SI 490/2021), the defendant may apply to court to dismiss the action, with costs, for want of prosecution

Defence and Counterclaim – Order 21

  • In actions where a plaintiff files a plenary summons and the defendant enters an appearance, the defendant shall deliver their defence and counterclaim (if any).
  • The defence and counterclaim shall be delivered within 8 weeks from the date of delivery of the statement of claim. 
  • If a statement of claim is not required, the defence and counterclaim shall be delivered within 8 weeks from the entry of appearance. 
  • In actions for debt or liquidated demand, a mere denial of debt will be inadmissible.
  • Where a defendant counterclaims and includes any third party not mentioned within the original proceedings, the defendant shall add the third parties to the title of their defence and serve their defence on the third party.


Default of Pleading – Order 27

  • If proceedings are correctly served and the plaintiff fails to deliver a statement of claim, the defendant may apply to court to dismiss the action, with costs, for want of prosecution.
  • However, if the court considers it in the interests of justice, time for delivery of the statement of claim may be extended for a period deemed necessary. 
  • Furthermore, if the extended time period expires, and the plaintiff has not filed a statement of claim in the Central Office, an Unless Order shall take effect and the action shall stand dismissed without any further application to the court.
  • Written notice and written consent to the late delivery of statement of claim shall be given to the plaintiff no less than 28 days before the service of a Motion of Dismiss, in cases of unliquidated damages in tort or contract.

Practicalities of Issuing a Motion to Dismiss:

  • If no statement of claim is delivered, the defendant can serve a motion to dismiss the action, with costs, for want of prosecution.
  • The motion to dismiss shall be served on the plaintiff no later than 10 days from the date it was filed. 
  • If the plaintiff (a) serves a statement of claim within 21 days of the service of the notice of motion and (b) lodges the statement of claim in the Central Office with a certified copy of the notice of motion, not later than 10 days before the return date; the motion to dismiss shall be struck out and the plaintiff shall pay €750 in costs to the defendant.


Failure to Deliver a Defence and Judgement in Default of Defence

  • If the defendant does not deliver a defence within the allotted period, the plaintiff may issue a motion for judgment in default of defence.
  • However, if the court considers it in the interests of justice, time for delivery of the statement of claim may be extended for a period deemed necessary. 
  • If the defendant does not deliver a defence in claims for debt, liquidated demand, recovery of land, pecuniary damages or delivery of specific goods, the plaintiff may enter final judgment in the Central Office.
  • If the defendant does not deliver a defence in claims for the recovery of non-payment of rent, the landlord, receiver, agent or clerk must file an affidavit noting that at least one year’s rent is due.
  • For cases involving the recovery of money, lent by a money lender or an assignee, recovery of debt, liquidated demand, credit sale agreement or contract of guarantee, judgment in default of defence shall only be entered upon the expiration of 12 months from the date of issue of the original summons (unless the leave of the court has been obtained). 
  • in cases of unliquidated damages in tort or contract, written notice and written consent to the late delivery of defence shall be given to the defendant no less than 28 days before the service of a notice of motion for judgment in default of defence.
  • As set out above, the same practicalities of issuing a motion to dismiss apply in instances of the issuing a motion for judgment in default of defence.


The applying party shall notify the opposing party within 28 days of any judgement or order being obtained and serve a copy of the order within 28 days from the passing and perfection of such order.




For more information on this or any other matters in respect of Litigation, please contact Declan Murphy or Jesika Loughran.