There are some things you might like to consider before deciding whether to start a case in the court.
The Small Claims Division of the Local Court was set up to help people run their case without a lawyer. You can have a lawyer if you want to.
Making a claim in the court will involve time and some inconvenience to you. If the other person disputes your claim, you will need to attend court at least twice and possibly more often. You may also have to spend time doing research, serving court papers, gathering evidence, and writing statements.
You will have to pay a fee to start a case in the Small Claims Division of the Local Court. This is $97.00 for an individual and $194.00 for a corporation (as at 1 July 2016). Check the list of current court fees on the
Local Court website.
There is no guarantee you will get your money from the debtor, even if you are successful and get a court judgment against them. If you get a judgment against the debtor, you have 12 years to enforce the judgment. The debtor may not be able to pay the debt now but they might be able to in the future.
Getting your money back depends on whether:
The debtor may have other debts as well. You can check whether the debtor is bankrupt:
Even when you represent yourself, there will be some expenses in making a claim, such as the fee for filing the Statement of Claim. There are also fees to pay when you try to enforce a judgment. If you get judgment, you can add these kinds of fees to the amount that the debtor has to pay you. You won't get the fees back if you can't find the debtor or if the debtor has no money or assets.
If you lose the case and the debtor has used a lawyer, you may be ordered to pay the debtor's lawyer's costs.
In the Small Claims Division of the Local Court there is a limit on the amount of lawyer's costs you can be ordered to pay. As at July 2016, these costs are:
To make a claim in the Local Court you have to serve a copy of the Statement of Claim on the debtor and the court has to have an address so that it can send letters and documents to the debtor. You can't start a case unless you know where the debtor is and have a postal address for the debtor.
If you need help finding a debtor, go to
Finding and naming the right defendant.
The time limit for making a claim in the Local Court for money you are owed is 6 years. You start counting the time from the date the debt should have been paid or from when the debt was last acknowledged in writing or a repayment made. For more information, see
Time limits can be tricky - get
legal advice if you think you may be outside the time limit.
The court must have jurisdiction if you want to make a claim in a NSW Local Court. This means that there must be a connection between your case or debt and NSW. This could be that the loan was made in NSW, the goods and/or services were supplied in NSW or that one or both parties live or have a business in NSW.
You should get
legal advice if you are not sure whether you can file your claim in NSW.
To win a court case, you need to have evidence to prove your claim. Do you have, or can you get, copies of contracts, receipts, bank statements, invoices, emails or letters that support what you say happened? Are there witnesses who can make a statement? Do you have photographs of damage?
For more information, see
You should get
legal advice about the evidence you need to support your claim.
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