I ran into a similar problem. Given the ease of using Macro Paradise, Macro Annotations are a solution (for scala 2.10.X and 2.11 so far).

Check out this question and the example project linked in the comments below.


The approach below works for any Scala class that has either a no-arg ctor or has an all defaulted primary ctor.

It makes fewer assumptions than some others about how much information is available at the point of call as all it needs is a Class[_] instance and not implicits etc. Also the approach does not rely on the class having to be a case class or having a companion at all.

FYI During construction precedence is given to the no-arg ctor if present.

object ClassUtil {

def newInstance(cz: Class[_ <: AnyRef]): AnyRef = {

    val bestCtor = findNoArgOrPrimaryCtor(cz)
    val defaultValues = getCtorDefaultArgs(cz, bestCtor)

    bestCtor.newInstance(defaultValues: _*).asInstanceOf[A]

  private def defaultValueInitFieldName(i: Int): String = s"$$lessinit$$greater$$default$$${i + 1}"

  private def findNoArgOrPrimaryCtor(cz: Class[_]): Constructor[_] = {
    val ctors = cz.getConstructors.sortBy(_.getParameterTypes.size)

    if (ctors.head.getParameterTypes.size == 0) {
      // use no arg ctor
    } else {
      // use primary ctor

  private def getCtorDefaultArgs(cz: Class[_], ctor: Constructor[_]): Array[AnyRef] = {

    val defaultValueMethodNames = {
      valIndex => defaultValueInitFieldName(valIndex._2)

    try {
    } catch {
      case ex: NoSuchMethodException =>
        throw new InstantiationException(s"$cz must have a no arg constructor or all args must be defaulted")


The case class should have default args, so that you can just Person(); in the absence of a default arg, supplying a null for name might (or ought to) hit a require(name != null).

Alternatively, use reflection to figure out which params have defaults and then supply nulls or zeros for the rest.

import reflect._
import scala.reflect.runtime.{ currentMirror => cm }
import scala.reflect.runtime.universe._

// case class instance with default args

// Persons entering this site must be 18 or older, so assume that
case class Person(name: String, age: Int = 18) {
  require(age >= 18)

object Test extends App {

  // Person may have some default args, or not.
  // normally, must Person(name = "Guy")
  // we will Person(null, 18)
  def newCase[A]()(implicit t: ClassTag[A]): A = {
    val claas = cm classSymbol t.runtimeClass
    val modul = claas.companionSymbol.asModule
    val im = cm reflect (cm reflectModule modul).instance
    defaut[A](im, "apply")

  def defaut[A](im: InstanceMirror, name: String): A = {
    val at = newTermName(name)
    val ts = im.symbol.typeSignature
    val method = (ts member at).asMethod

    // either defarg or default val for type of p
    def valueFor(p: Symbol, i: Int): Any = {
      val defarg = ts member newTermName(s"$name$$default$$${i+1}")
      if (defarg != NoSymbol) {
        println(s"default $defarg")
        (im reflectMethod defarg.asMethod)()
      } else {
        println(s"def val for $p")
        p.typeSignature match {
          case t if t =:= typeOf[String] => null
          case t if t =:= typeOf[Int]    => 0
          case x                        => throw new IllegalArgumentException(x.toString)
    val args = (for (ps <- method.paramss; p <- ps) yield p).zipWithIndex map (p => valueFor(p._1,p._2))
    (im reflectMethod method)(args: _*).asInstanceOf[A]

  assert(Person(name = null) == newCase[Person]())


If you are looking for a way to instantiate the object with no arguments, you could do the same as you did in your example, just so long as your reflection setter can handle setting the immutable vals.

You would provide an alternate constructor, as below:

case class Person(name : String, age : Int) {
    def this() = this("", 0)

Note that the case class will not generate a zero-arg companion object, so you will need to instantiate it as: new Person() or classOf[Person].newInstance(). However, that should be what you are looking to do.

Should give you output like:

scala> case class Person(name : String, age : Int) {
     |         def this() = this("", 0)
     |     }
defined class Person

scala> classOf[Person].newInstance()
res3: Person = Person(,0)

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