When parties consent

Last week I attended Court on an unusual motion. In 2012, a defendant to a law suit settled an action with my client by agreeing to make payments over time. As is common in settlements of a long duration, one of the terms was that the defendant sign a Consent to Judgment for the full amount of the claim, less payments received, plus actual legal fees and interest.

The Judgment would only be used if there was a default in payment that wasn’t fixed within a period of time agreed to by the parties. The defendant defaulted and we obtained Consent Judgment.

The unusual motion was the defendant moving to set aside the Consent Judgment arguing it was in the “interests of justice” to do so. As nothing had changed since the Judgment was obtained and we had put absolutely everything in front of the Judge signing the Consent Judgment, the defendant was not successful and the Judgment remains in place.

We successfully defeated this motion in large part because of putting every email and telephone call before the Courts. Many firms choose not to do that, they’d rather be “bare bones” about it and many clients insist on cutting costs if at all possible.

Ultimately, remember if you sign a Consent, you could be called upon to honour it. Do not sign lightly and if you’re taking out the Judgment, put everything before the Court.

Inga B. Andriessen JD