​ሕግንና ደንብን በተመለከተ እርዳታ ማግኘት ይፈልጋሉን? - Amharic | هل تحتاج لمساعدة قانونية؟ - Arabic | ܤܢܝܼܩܵܐ ܝ݇ܘ̤ܬ ܠܗܲܝܵܪܬܵܐ ܩܵܢܘܿܢܵܝܬܵܐ؟ - Assyrian | Need Legal Help? - Auslan | Treba li vam pravna pomoc? - Bosnian | Burmese â Need Legal Help? | 需要法律帮助吗? - Chinese Simplified | 需要法律幫助嗎? - Chinese Traditional | Trebate li pravnu pomoć? - Croatian | ضرورت به کمک قانونی دارید؟ - Dari | Wïc Kuɔɔny në Wɛ̈t Löŋ? - Dinka | آیا به کمک حقوقی نیاز دارید؟ - Farsi | Gadreva na Veivuke Vakalawa? - Fijian | Kailangan ninyo ba ng tulong na panglegal? - Filipino | Besoin d’aide juridique ? - French | Χρειάζεστε βοήθεια σε νομικά ζητήματα - Greek | क्या आपको कानूनी सलाह चाहिए? - Hindi | Butuhkan Bantuan dalam Masalah Hukum? - Indonesian | Hai bisogno di assistenza legale? - Italian | ត្រូវការជំនួយលើបញ្ហាផ្លូវច្បាប់ឬទេ? - Khmer | 법적인 도움이 필요하십니까? - Korean | Ви треба ли помош со правни работи? - Macedonian | कानूनी सहयोग चाहिएको छ? - Nepalese | Necessita de ajuda com questões jurídicas? - Portuguese | Вам нужна юридическая помощь? - Russian | E Manaomia Fesoasoani i Mea Tau Tulafono? - Samoan | а ли вам треба помоћ у правним питањима? - Serbian | Ma u baahan tahay Caawimmad xagga sharciga ah?- Somali | ¿Necesita ayuda con cuestiones jurídicas? - Spanish | சட்ட உதவி தேவையா? - Tamil | ท่านต้องการความช่วยเหลือทางด้านกฎหมายไหม? - Thai | Fiema’u ha tokoni Fakalao? - Tongan | Yasal Danışmaya İhtiyacınız mı var? - Turkish | Cần Được Giúp Đỡ Về Luật Pháp? - Vietnamese |

Do I have to go to court?

It's worth trying to get the money you are owed for a debt or as a result of a car accident paid back without the trouble and expense of a court case.

Alert Icon Before you decide if you want to start a court case, you should consider the strength of your claim by getting legal advice. If you lose the court case and the defendant has a solicitor or barrister appearing for them, you may have to pay some of their legal costs. For more information, see Legal costs.

You should consider:

    ​Letter of de​mand

    A letter of demand is a letter you send to the person or business that owes you money, also known as the 'debtor'. The letter should tell the debtor:

    • how much money is owed
    • why the money is owed, for example because of a debt or as a result of a car accident
    • when the money should have been paid, if the debt was due by a certain date
    • that if the money is not repaid by a certain date, you intend to start legal action to recover (get back) the debt
    • that the debtor may become liable (responsible) to pay your court costs and interest on the debt.

    Don't forget to put the date on the letter and to include your full name or the name of your business. You should also put your postal address, email address and phone numbers in the letter.

    Make sure you keep a copy of the letter of demand and a record of where and when you posted the letter to the debtor. For more information, see Sample letters of demand.

    motor vehicle iconIf your claim is about a car accident, see Sample letters of demand - car accidents.If the debt is more than six years old, or if the car accident happened more than six years ago, you can still send a letter of demand. However, you may not be able to win a court a case to get the money back as by law there are time limits for making claims. These are called a statutory time limits. For more information, see Time limits. You should get legal advice if you are chasing a debt that is more than six years old.

    You may receive a request for further and better particulars (more information) from the debtor about your letter of demand. For more information on how you may respond, see Sample response to letter asking for further and better particulars.

    Negotiation

    You can try to talk to the debtor about the debt and how it can be repaid. You could consider accepting payment of a lesser amount in a lump sum or payment of the whole debt by instalments (part payments).

    If you are able to reach an agreement with the debtor about repaying the debt, you should write down what has been agreed and both of you should sign the agreement.

    For more information, see Settling the case, Sample agreement to pay by instalments and Sample Release - car accidents

    Mediation

    Sometimes there might be a disagreement about whether the money is owed, how much money is owed, how and when the money should be repaid or who was at fault in the car accident. In these situations, mediation could be useful.

    An independent person, called the mediator, helps the parties try to settle their dispute through discussion and negotiation. All discussions in mediation are confidential and 'Without Prejudice'. This means that if the case ends up going to a court hearing, nothing the parties have said during the mediation may be used against a party in the court.

    Most mediation is voluntary - you cannot force the debtor to attend. For this reason, mediation is only an option if the debtor will agree to do it. Community Justice Centres provide free ​mediation services in NSW. All you need to do is contact them. The staff can tell you if your situation is suitable for mediation. The staff will then contact the debtor and encourage them to participate in a mediation session.

    For more information, go to the Community ​Justice Centres website. 

    Options if no payment is made

    If a letter of demand, negotiation or mediation does not work, you could make a claim in the Local Court. For more information, see Starting a Case.​

    For answers to some commonly asked questions, see Do I have to go to court? - Questions to consider and Do I have to go to court? - Frequently Asked Questions.

    Picture parties attending mediation
     

    Further information

    Communit​y Jus​tice Centres