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Filing a defence 

If you disagree with the claim, you can file a defence form with the court. 

You must do thi​s within 28 days of being served with the statement of claim otherwise the plaintiff can get judgment against you.

If you want to file a defence, follow the steps in the guide on this page. If you are not sure whether you should file a defence you should get legal advice

AlertIf the claim is about a co​nsum​er credit debt, such as a bank loan, credit card or car loan, you should consider External Dispute Resolution (EDR). There are lots of benefits of trying to resolve the dispute through EDR, rather than through court. For more information, see External Dispute Resolution.

Icon: Page with numbered listFiling a defence - Step by s​tep guide​​​ 

Step 1: Check the dates

When was the statement of claim filed?

You must be served with a copy of a statement of claim with the court seal (stamp) on it within six months of the date that it was filed at the court. If it is served more than six months after it was filed, you should get legal advice​.

AlertThere is a six year time limit on recovering a debt in most cases. If it has been more than six years since the debt was first owed, or you last made a payment, or acknowledged the debt in writing, you may have a defence to the claim. You should get legal advice​. 

When was the statement of claim served? 

The time limit for filing a defence is 28 days from the date that you were served with the statement of claim. If you do not file a defence within 28 days the plaintiff may get a judgment against you without you being notified. This is called a default judgment. Once judgment is entered against you the plaintiff can start enforcing the judgment debt.

If the statement of claim was served on you by post by the Local Court, you should contact the court to find out what day they say it was served. If 28 days has passed, ask the court if there is a default judgment against you. If there is no default judgment, you can still file a defence. 

For more information on what you can do if there is a default judgment against you, see Setting aside a default judgment​. 

Step 2: Get the form 

You need one form: 

  • ​​Form 7B - Defence - filing party acting in person or by authorised officer. ​​

You can get copies of the form from:  

You can also complete and file this form online using the NSW Online Registry​.

​Step 3: Fill out the form 

You can fill out your form:

  • ​​by completing it on your computer
  • by printing the form and completing it in blue or black pen.

To fill in the form you will need the following information: 

  • ​the location of the court, case number and name of the plaintiff (this is on the statement of claim)
  • dates and events relevant to the claim made by the plaintiff
  • your address, telephone, fax and email details.

Your defence must explain why you disagree with the claim. You should reply to each claim made on the statement of claim. You should also raise anything else that explains why you do not owe the money or the goods claimed. 

If you are unsure about the wording in your defence, you should get legal advice.  

Instructions: 

Samples: 

Handy hintHave a copy of the statement of claim with you when completing the form.

Sign the form after filling it out and make one copy. 

Step 4: File the form 

The form and the copy must be filed at the court where the statement of claim was filed. There is no filing fee. 

You can file the form:

  • ​in person at the court
  • online using the NSW Online Registry
  • by post (the address of the court will be on the statement of claim).

If you are getting close to the end of the 28 days it may be safer to file your defence in person to avoid the risk of your form getting lost or delayed in the post.

The court staff will stamp the original and give you back the stamped copy. The court will send one copy to the plaintiff and any other plaintiffs and defendants, if there is more than one. 

If you want to move the case to another court closer to you, you need to get permission from the court. You can do this when you file your defence. For more information, see Moving the case to a different court

Step 5: Note your court date 

After you have filed your form, the court will send you a notice of listing. This is a letter with the date and time that you and the plaintiff will need to go to court for your first​ court appearance. This is called a pre-trial review.

For more information, see During the case. 

​Further information

​​​NSW Online Registry​

​​NSW Online Registry help on filing a defence​

​​​NSW Online Registry instructional videos​

​​Search NSW​ Court Lists App​

​​​​​An app is available for court users with both Android and iOS devices. Search courts lists, up to two weeks in advance and one week in the past. Find individual court sittings by searching by case number or party name. Links are available from the NSW Online Registry.​