If someone owes you money for goods or services that you have provided, you can recover that debt through the Magistrates Court in Western Australia, located in Perth. For smaller amounts, the debt recovery process can be straightforward. This article will step you through how to recover debts of up to $10,000.
Step One: Send a Letter of Demand
Firstly, you will send a Letter of Demand to the debtor telling him or her the following:
- Details about the money that is owed;
- When they must pay the outstanding amount; and
- That you will commence legal action if they do not respond or pay the money by the specified date.
If the matter is unsettled after you send a Letter of Demand, you may then consider commencing legal proceedings.
Step Two: Determine What Type of Claim You Can Make
The Magistrates Court can deal with three types of claims for debts. You will need to know which applies to the money that is owed to you and follow the appropriate process.
- Minor claims for debts up to $10,000,
- General procedure claims for debts from $10,001 up to $75,000, or
- Consumer claims over the sale, supply or hire of goods or services up to the amount of $50,000.
Step Three: Lodge a Minor Claim
The minor claim form is available from the Magistrates Court or their website. You can fill in the form and lodge the claim by paying the application fee online or in person at the court registry.
Step Four: Serve the Defendant
You can serve the Defendant personally, meaning that you provide them with a copy of the claim. If you are unable to serve the Defendant personally, the Court can arrange for its delivery. It is important that you take steps to ensure you serve the Defendant as soon as practicable. This must be within one year of lodging the minor claim form.
Step Five: Lodge the Statement of Claim
You are also required to lodge the Statement of Claim (SOC) either with the minor claim form or after your serve the Defendant. If the Defendant files a notice of intention to defend, then you must lodge the SOC within 14 days of receiving the notice.
The Defendant’s Response
The Defendant has up to 14 days to respond to your claim from receiving notice, at which point they can respond by:
- Acknowledge the debt;
- Dispute the debt; or
- Admit part of the debt, but challenge the balance.
If the Defendant disputes the debt, in part or whole, he or she will need to lodge a notice of intention to defend. You will receive notice, and the Registrar will then arrange a pre-trial. During this time, you and the debtor will be encouraged to try and settle the matter. If, however, an outcome is not reached, the Registrar will list the matter for hearing in front of a Magistrate.
If the Defendant does not respond to the claim, you can apply for the Court to award a default judgment in your favour. You have 12 months to lodge this application from the date you served the claim on the Defendant.
You should notify the Magistrates Court in writing if you and the debtor settle you matter and that you wish to withdraw your claim. At trial, the Magistrate will hear both sides present their arguments and then make its final decision.
Should you have any questions about debt recovery in the Northern Territory, LegalVision’s experienced litigation and dispute resolution lawyers would be delighted to assist! Please get in touch with us on 1300 544 744.
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