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An omission; a failure to do that which is anticipated, expected, or required in a given situation.

Default is distinguishable from Negligence in that it does not involve carelessness or imprudence with respect to the discharge of a duty or obligation but rather the intentional omission or nonperformance of a duty.

To default on a debt is to fail to pay it upon its due date. Default in contract law implies failure to perform a contractual obligation.

A default judgment is one that may be entered against a party in a lawsuit for failure to comply with a procedural step in the suit, such as failure to file an answer to a complaint or failure to file a paper on time. A default judgment is not one that goes to the merits of a lawsuit but is procedural in nature.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1) n. failure to respond to a summons and complaint served on a party in the time required by law. If a legal answer or other response is not filed, the suing party (plaintiff) can request a default be entered in the record, which terminates the rights of the defaulting party to defend the case. 2) the failure to make a payment when due, which can lead to a notice of default and the start of foreclosure proceedings if the debt is secured by a mortgage or deed of trust. 2) v. to fail to file an answer or other response to a summons and complaint, or fail to make a payment when due. (See: default judgment)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


the failure to do that which ought to be done. Thus, failure to make payment under a contract is a default; more specifically, failure to repay or otherwise comply with the terms of a loan agreement are acts of default. Some legislation may provide for special notice to be given as in consumer credit or in relation to mortgages. When a defendant fails to take certain necessary steps in a court action, the court may give judgment by default.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

DEFAULT. The neglect to perform a legal obligation or duty; but in technical language by default is often understood the non-appearance of the defendant within the time prescribed by law, to defend himself; it also signifies the non-appearance of the plaintiff to prosecute his claim.
     2. When the plaintiff makes default, he may be nonsuited; and when the defendant makes default, judgment by default is rendered against him. Com. Dig. Pleader, E 42 Id. B 11. Vide article Judgment by Default, and 7 Vin. Ab. 429; Doct. Pl. 208 Grah. Pr. 631. See, as to what will excuse or save a default, Co. Litt. 259 b.

DEFAULT, contracts, torts. By the 4th section of the English statute of frauds, 29 Car. H., c. 3, it is enacted that "no action shall be brought to charge the defendant upon any special promise to answer for the debt, default, or miscarriage of another person, unless the agreement," &c., "shall be in writing," &c. By default under this statute is understood the non-performance of duty, though the same be not founded on a contract. 2 B. & A. 516.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Retail is expected to underperform versus all other corporate sectors and could account for $7 billion of loan default volume next year, leading to a sector default rate of 10%.
Fitch expects the institutional leveraged loan default rate will end 2016 at 2.5%, with energy and metals/mining contributing the most, in terms of both defaulted issuers and volume.
Amid outrage over embattled Vijay Mallya's alleged massive loan default, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had cautioned against going on a "fishing expedition" on bad loans so that it doesn't make banks worried about lending in future.
Given the significant pledged resources, Fitch's cash flow modeling demonstrates that the SRF program can continue to pay bond debt service even with hypothetical loan defaults of 100% over the first, middle and last four-year period of the bonds life.
In his new role, Tabela will be responsible for driving awareness of 401(k) loan defaults as a critical financial wellness and fiduciary challenge, while positioning RLE in the institutional retirement marketplace.
M2 EQUITYBITES-December 19, 2018-Custodia Financial appoints chief marketing officer to drive awareness of 401(k) loan defaults
Global Banking News-December 19, 2018-Custodia Financial appoints chief marketing officer to drive awareness of 401(k) loan defaults
Kenyans are paying a high price for the economic slowdown experienced last year due to political uncertainty and poor weather, with most losing property to auctioneers due to loan defaults.
Taking a stand against deliberate loan defaults that are preventing the recovery of the banking system might lose votes and this is the only thing they care about.
SC says disclose total outstanding amount of loan defaults, RBI cites confidentiality clause
The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill says the FIRO was promulgated in 2001, primarily to deal with the recovery process of the bank loans and loan defaults. However, the apex court declared section 15 of the ordinance as ultravires to the Constitution on December 10, 2013.
The problem of moral hazard is most pronounced among for-profit colleges, which enroll 12 percent of students but account for 44 percent of student loan defaults. The worst of them encourage students to borrow heavily, and then give their graduates credentials that seldom lead to jobs with salaries that will allow them to repay their loans.