If someone owes you or your business money for goods supplied or services rendered in Western Australia, you can take steps to enforce a payment. You can also recover the money owing to you through the Magistrates Court in WA. However, we will explore this avenue for debt recovery in part two of this series. 

Send a Letter of Demand

Before commencing any action, it is sensible to send the person owing you money, the debtor, first and second reminder letters. These may assist with maintaining your business relationship. If this is unsuccessful, your first step will be to send a Letter of Demand, addressed to the debtor. The Letter of Demand should:

  • Outline the details of the debt owed,
  • Provide the debtor a timeframe in which to repay the amount, and
  • Put the debtor on notice that if money is still unpaid by that time, you will commence legal action.

A Letter of Demand provides the debtor with the opportunity to make payment and to, if necessary, negotiate a repayment plan. Legal proceedings can be expensive, and so it can be beneficial to both parties if you can settle the matter outside of Court.  

Unfortunately, however, a Letter of Demand may not always result in the debtor making payment. If you choose to take further action to enforce payment, your Letter of Demand may be used as evidence demonstrating your attempts to settle the matter.

What Next?

Once you send a Letter of Demand, the debtor can respond in a number of ways including: 

  • Admitting the debt and paying the outstanding amount,
  • Negotiating a payment plan with you,
  • Ignoring the letter, or
  • Disputing the existence of the debt or the amount owed.

If the debtor disputes the debt, it is then up to you to decide what your next step will be. You have the option of commencing legal action through the Magistrates Court, or you can write the debt off. You will need to weigh up the debt amount against the costs of litigation to decide whether it is worth pursuing. For example, if the debt is $2,000 or less, it may not be worth pursuing this through the court process.

Debt Recovery Action

The amount of money owed determines the process you will need to undertake to recover your debt.

The Magistrates Court deals with each of the following debt claims: 

  • Minor claims for debts up to $10,000, 
  • General Procedure Claims for debts between $10,001 and $75,000, and 
  • Consumer claims over the sale, supply or hire of goods or services up to the amount of $50,000.

Conclusion

If you have any questions about enforcing a payment or require assistance with recovering a debt owed to you, please get in touch on 1300 544 755. One of LegalVision’s experienced Litigation and Dispute Resolution lawyers would be delighted to step you through this process. In the meantime, you can continue reading about how to enforce a payment through Western Australia’s Magistrates Court.

Dhanu Eliezer

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