​Should you go to court?

A judgment from a cour​t can help you get your money back, but going to court will cost you time and money. 

Before you start a court case, here are some things to think about when you are deciding if it is worth it.

    Can you find the other party?

    To make a claim in the Local Court you have to serve a copy of the court documents on the other party and the court must have an address so that it can send letters and documents to them. You cannot start a case unless you can find out the correct address for the other party. If you don't serve documents on the correct address you may have trouble running a case against them.

    For more information, see Identify the other party

    Are you within the time limit for starting a court case?

    The time limit to start a court case to recover a debt is six years from when the money became owed, when the last repayment was made, or when the debt was last acknowledged in writing (whichever comes last). If you are unsure, you should get legal advice​. 

    Does the debt have a connection with NSW? 

    To start a case in a NSW court, your claim must have some connection with NSW. For example:

    • ​​the loan was made in NSW
    • the goods and/or services were supplied in NSW
    • you or the other party live or have a business in NSW.​

    If you are not sure whether you can file your claim in NSW, you should get legal advice​. 

    Do you have evidence to prove your claim? 

    To win a court case, you need to have evidence to support your claim. Evidence to support a claim could include:

    • ​​copies of contracts, receipts, bank statements, invoices, emails or letters that support what you say happened
    • witnesses who can make a statement.

    You should consider the strength of your claim before going to court, and get legal advice​.

    Do you need a lawyer? 

    You can have a lawyer if you want one, but you may not need one. The Small Claims Division of the Local Court was set up to help people run their case without a lawyer. You will usually have to pay for a lawyer if you use one, and even if you win you will probably not get all your legal costs back. 

    Do you have time to go to court? 

    Going to court can take up a lot of your time. If the other party disputes your claim, you will usually need to go to court twice and possibly more often. You may also have to spend time doing research, serving court papers, gathering evidence, and writing statements. 

    Can you afford it? 

    If you decide to start a case in the Local Court, you will have to pay filing and service fees. 

    You may also need to pay:

    • ​costs of enforcing judgment, if you win
    • professional (lawyer's) costs, if you lose.

    You can claim some of these costs from the other party. But even if you win, there is no guarantee that you will get all your money or your costs back.

    Will you get your money back if you win?

    Getting your money back depends on whether the other party has any savings, income or property that can be used to pay the debt. 

    Even if you win your case, unless the other party actually has money or assets that can be used to pay the debt, you may never get your money back.