You took the first step in enforcing your legal rights by sending a letter of demand, requesting that the other party take action and fulfil their obligations. The deadline you specified comes and goes with no response. This can be very frustrating and leave you feeling helpless. There are a number of things you can do if your letter of demand goes unanswered. In this article, we set out your options if your letter of demand is ignored.

Send One Final Demand Notice

If a letter of demand is ignored or unanswered, you should consider sending one final demand letter. This is usually a very short and sharp letter which annexes your previous correspondence and gives the party a further seven days to comply with the demand.  

Your original letter of demand may have gone unseen or still be sitting on someone’s desk to action. By sending a final demand notice, you can potentially avoid the additional costs of escalating the matter to court.  

Follow What You Outlined in Your Letter of Demand

Letters of demand outline the actions you will take in the event the other party fails to respond. In most cases, this involves taking the matter to court. Following through with what you said you would do in your letter of demand shows the other party that you take the matter seriously.

If the other party does not reply to your letter of demand, you may consider taking the matter to the local court (for debts less than $100,000). The information outlined below applies to the local courts of New South Wales (NSW) but it is similar in every state and territory. Check your relevant local court website for information specific to your state or territory.

The Local Court Process in NSW

The local court aims to find a just, quick and cheap resolution to matters. The small claims division of the local court deals with matters relating to debts less than $10,000.  The court aims to resolve disputes within six months of the date you file the initial claim. Often, people self-represent in matters before the local court, however, it is still a good idea to seek legal advice on what to expect. A lawyer can advise you on ways to frame your argument and the evidence you need to make your case. If the matter is of a higher monetary value, it will take place in the general division of the local court, which hears cases between $10,001 and $100,000.

To begin proceedings in the local court, you or your lawyer will need to file a statement of claim with the court. You then serve the statement of claim on the other party (the defendant). The defendant has 28 days to respond to the statement of claim through a defence or otherwise. If they fail to respond within that time frame, you can apply for a default judgment. A default judgment is an automatic judgment against a party due to the party’s failure to respond to legal proceedings.

Key Takeaways

It can be frustrating when your letter of demand is ignored. It is important to note that the letter is not the ‘end of the road’ for your dispute; you do have options to escalate the matter further. You should seek legal advice before commencing court proceedings. This way, you can ensure you spend your time and money in a way that makes strategic and legal sense. If you have sent a letter of demand and not received a response, contact LegalVision’s debt recovery lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Eugenia Munoz
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