Default Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Default, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Default?

1\) n. A party’s failure to respond to a summons and complaint that was served upon them. This can result in the rights of the defaulting party to be terminated if the legal answer or other response isn’t entered in the record. New York has a unique statute where a default can be taken by failure to respond to a summons that was served without complaint. 2) Notice of default and beginning of foreclosure proceedings if one fails to make a payment when due and the debt is secured by a mortgage or deed of trust. 3) v. To fail to respond to a summons and complaint, or to fail to pay a debt when due.