We earlier explained how to enforce a payment in Western Australia by issuing a Letter of Demand. This does not however always result in the debtor paying the outstanding money owed. If you do choose to move the matter forward, it is important that you understand the process in lodging a claim in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia.
Step One: Lodge a Minor Claim
You will first need to fill in a minor claim form, which you can collect from the Magistrates Court or download from the website. You can then lodge your claim online and pay by credit card, or, you can lodge the claim and pay the application fee in person at the court registry.
Step Two: Notify the Defendant
It is important that you confirm the Defendant receives a copy of the claim by either providing them with a copy yourself (called ‘service’), or the Court can appoint someone to deliver the claim. You must serve the Defendant as soon as practicable and within one year of lodging the minor claim form.
Step Three: Statement of Claim
You will then need to lodge a Statement of Claim (SOC) along with your minor claim form. The SOC is a document outlining the details of the matter and your case. You have 14 days to lodge the SOC from receiving the Defendant’s notice of intention to defend.
Step Four: The Defendant’s Response
The Defendant must respond within 14 days of receiving notice of your claim. They can:
- Admit the debt,
- Dispute the debt, or
- Admit part of the debt and challenge the remainder.
If the Defendant disputes the debt, in whole or in part, he or she will need to lodge a notice of intention to defend.
You will then receive notification, and a pre-trial conference will be held to encourage the parties to resolve the matter. If the parties still cannot settle the matter in this initial conference, then the case will be listed and heard in front of a Magistrate. The Defendant’s failure to respond to your claim at all may result in a default judgment awarded in your favour.
Step 5: Settling the Matter
If you can settle the matter directly with the Defendant before trial, let the Magistrates Court know in writing and also that you withdraw the claim. If, however, you and the debtor cannot settle the matter, it will go to trial.
When seeking to enforce a payment, it is best to resolve the matter outside of court through reminder notices and a Letter of Demand. Engaging a lawyer to draft a Letter of Demand can be invaluable as they will better understand the precise wording to use that does not harass or intimidate the debtor – both actions are illegal.
If this is unsuccessful in recovering the money owed to you, and you choose to take the matter to Court, you will require an experienced litigation lawyer to assist with navigating you through the process. Should you have any questions about enforcing a payment in WA, please get in touch with LegalVision on 1300 544 755.