DEFAULT (Fr. defaut, from (Wainer, to fail, Lat. fallere), in English law, a failure to do some act required by law either as a regular step in procedure or as being a duty imposed. Parties in an action may be in default as to procedure by failure to appear to the writ, or to take some other step, within the prescribed time. In such cases the opposing party gains some advantage by being allowed to sign judgment or otherwise. But as a rule, unless the party is much in default and is under a peremptory order to proceed, the penalty for default is by order to pay the costs occasioned. When there is default in complying with the terms of a judgment the remedy is by executing it by one of the processes admitted by the law. (See Execution.) In the case of judgments in criminal or quasi-criminal cases, where a fine is imposed, it is in most cases legal and usual to order imprisonment if the fine is not paid or if the property of the defendant is insufficient to realize its amount. Default in compliance with a statute renders the defaulter liable to action by the person aggrieved or to indictment if the matter of command is of public concern, subject in either case to the qualification that the statute may limit the remedy for the default to some particular proceeding specifically indicated; and in some instances, e.g. in the case of local authorities, default in the execution of their public duties is dealt with administratively by a department of the government, and only in the last resort, if at all, by recourse to judicial tribunals.
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