If the defendant is absent and the plaintiff is present at court, the court will first ensure that the claim is valid, then it will give the plaintiff a “default judgment” against the defendant. The term “default” means the defendant failed to attend the proceedings.
The defendant now has 10 working days to pay, starting from the day after the defendant is informed of the default judgment. A letter will be sent by the small claims court to the defendant notifying him or her of the default judgment.
If the defendant has a legally valid defence to the claim, AND a valid reason for failing to appear in court (he has to have both) he can ask the court to “rescind” (or cancel) the default judgment.
He does this by immediately lodging a Rescission Application with the small claims court once he becomes aware of the default judgment.
NOTE: Lack of money is not a valid defence to a claim. ‘Forgetting the court date’, personal commitments, or business pressures are also not valid reasons for failing to attend a court hearing .If the court grants a rescission application, the claim starts from the beginning, and the claimant and defendant both have to appear in court. (See page 131 The trial)