In accordance with Part 12 of the Civil Procedure Rules, a Claimant is entitled to obtain judgment in default if a Defendant fails to file an acknowledgment of service of a claim or a defence to a claim within the relevant time. Generally, a Defendant must file either an acknowledgment of service or a defence within 14 days of the claim being served. If an acknowledgment of service is filed, a Defendant must file a defence within 28 days of the claim being served.

A default judgment may, however, be set aside by the Court. For example, in circumstances where the Court considers that a Defendant has a real prospect of successfully defending the claim. The Commercial Court has now provided a reminder that a default judgment may also be set aside on the basis that the Claimant has failed to comply with Court rules.

In this case, the Claimant had failed to serve a certificate of service of the claim with the Court and had also failed to provide the Defendants with a response pack, as required by the Civil Procedure Rules. The Court considered that the failure to provide the response pack - a pack containing a form for defending the claim, a form for admitting the claim and a form for acknowledging service - was a particularly significant issue. Further, the Defendants in this claim were foreign, and the Court stressed the importance of complying with procedures when foreign parties are involved in litigation. The default judgment was therefore set aside and the Claimant was ordered to pay the Defendant's costs of the application, assessed at £20,000.

This case serves a warning to Claimants that they should adhere to the requirements of the Civil Procedure Rules, especially where the Defendant is not located in England or Wales.

Case: Gulf International Bank BSC v Ekttitab Holding Company KSCC and another [2010] EWHC B30 (Comm)