Guest Author: Dr. R. McKay White
When acting for a creditor on a debt, it is common for the debtor not to defend the claim. It is therefore valuable to know the most efficient methods for entering default judgment. This will enable you to start collecting for your client more quickly and cheaply.
Default judgment in the Provincial Court is governed by s. 24.2 of the Provincial Court Act, RSA 2000, c P-31 and s. 6 of the Provincial Court Civil Procedure Regulation, Alta Reg 176/2018. No court application is needed. Simply fill out a Request for Default Judgment form and file it with the court. The court will then review the file and send you a Certificate of Default Judgment.
In the Court of Queen’s Bench, Rule 3.36 is the starting point for default judgment. Because your claim is for debt – a liquidated demand – the process is streamlined. Per Rule 3.36(1)(a), you are entitled to enter judgment under Rule 3.39. You do not need to have a clerk note the defendant in default, nor apply to a judge for default judgment. Because you are entitled to a costs award, you may apply directly to an Assessment Officer.
The Assessment Officer has authority both to grant the default judgment and to assess your costs. You will therefore be ready to collect all that is owing to your client. When meeting with the Assessment Officer, bring your filed Affidavit of Service of Statement of Claim, a draft Default Judgment, a completed Bill of Costs, and your calculation of interest and other money owing to your client. This will help the appointment go quickly and easily.
Upon receiving either a Certificate of Default Judgment from the Provincial Court, or a Default Judgment for an Assessment Officer, you must file the judgment in the Court of Queen’s Bench. You should also serve the judgment on the debtor defendant. With a filed judgment, your next step is to file a Writ of Enforcement in the Court of Queen’s Bench, the Personal Property Registry, and, if applicable, the Land Titles Office. You’re now ready to use seizure and garnishment to collect the debt owed to your client.
McKay White is a professor of legal studies at MacEwan University. He is the author of two recent publications on Alberta law: Debtor-Creditor and Collections Law in Alberta (2021) and Canadian Business Law: An Alberta Perspective (2020), both with Emond Publishing.