​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 |

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Frequently Asked Questions ​


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​1. I loaned a fri​​end ​​$5000 and now he says he will not pay me back. Can I take him to court?

It is quicker and cheaper to try to fix the problem without going to court, if you can. You could write a letter of demand, negotiate with the debtor or try free mediation through a Community Justice Centre. For information on these options, see Do I have to go to court?

If you have sent a letter of demand and the debtor still has not paid you, you may want to consider starting a case in the Local Court. If the debt owed to you is less than $10 000 you can start a case in the Small Claims Division of the Local Court. To find out the steps involved, see Starting a case.

Before you start a court case, you should get legal advice about the strength of your case. If you lose your case, you will usually have to pay the other party's costs.

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2. I have received a letter​ of demand in ​​the post, what should I do now?

A letter of demand is a letter asking that you pay a debt by a particular date. The letter will usually threaten legal action if the money is not paid.

You have options when you receive a letter of demand. You could:

  • admit that you owe some or all of the money and try to come to an agreement for payment
  • deny that you owe the money
  • ask for further information about the debt.

For help with what to do when you get a letter of demand, see Responding to a Letter of Demand


3. I have been given some court papers​​ called a Statement of Claim. It says I owe money to a company. I don't agree that I owe any money. What can I do?

A statement of claim is a document that starts a court case against you.

You have some choices about how to respond to the statement of claim. If you do not agree that you owe the money, you can file a Defence with the court. A Defence is a document that says that you deny owing all, or part of the money claimed and sets out the reasons why. You have other options including acknowledging the debt, filing a cross claim and negotiating with the plaintiff.

You should get legal advice on the strength of your case before deciding how to respond to a statement of claim. If you lose the case, you will usually have to pay the other party's costs.

Alert Icon  You have 28 days to file a defence from when you are served with the statement of claim.

For more information about your options see Responding to a Statement of Claim


4. I have filed a Statement of Claim ​​in the Small Claims Division of the Local Court and served it. What happens now?

After you have filed and served your Statement of Claim, the next steps in your case depend on what the defendant does.

The defendant may:

  • file a defence,
  • file an acknowledgment of liquidated claim,
  • pay some money (either all the amount you claimed or some of it) or
  • do nothing.

For information on these options see During the case. If the defendant files a defence you will be given a copy. Your case will then be listed in court for a Pre Trial Review. For more information on what happens after a defence is filed, see Defended cases.


5. I have filed a Defence to a claim.​​ There is a hearing in my case in 1 month. What do I do now?

If your case has a hearing date you will have already been to a Pre Trial Review. On that day, the registrar or magistrate will have made orders that you exchange all your evidence with the other side and file copies at the court. Usually this must be done at least 14 days before the date of the hearing.

After the Pre Trial Review, you can prepare your witness statements and any other evidence you want the court to consider like letters, emails, contracts, diagrams or photographs, invoices or receipts. Give yourself lots of time to do this and remember to keep copies of all the evidence. For more information, see Instructions for preparing witness statements and Sample witness statements - Defendant.

After you have received the plaintiff's evidence, read it carefully and prepare what you are going to say in court. It is a good idea to write down what you want the magistrate to consider in your case. You should also plan a list of all the documents you are going to take to court.

For more information see Preparing for the hearing - Step by step guide and Preparing for the hearing - Frequently asked questions.

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6. I have a case in the Small Claims ​​Division of the Local Court. I have heard that if I lose I might have to pay the other side's legal costs. What are legal costs and how much are they? If I win, can I get the other side to pay for my legal costs?

Legal costs usually refer to the cost of lawyer's fees as well as the expenses involved in running a case, such as fees for subpoenas and witnesses and fees for getting copies of records and expert reports.

The court may order that whoever loses the case pay the legal costs of the winning side.

If you do not have a lawyer, you will not be able to make a claim for lawyer's fees but you may still be able to claim the other fees and expenses. You cannot claim your costs for missing time at work or other expenses like travelling to court.

In the small claims division, there is a limit on the amount of lawyer's costs either you or the other side can claim. For more information see Do I have to go to court? - Questions to consider.


7. The sheriff from the Local Court has​​ contacted me. She says that a company has a judgment against me. I didn't know there was a court case against me and I don't think I owe this company any money. What can I do?

A judgment is an order from the court. A default judgment is an order made without you being there.

If you did not know about the case and you would now like to defend the case you can apply to the court for an order to set aside the default judgment. If the court sets the default judgment aside you will then have a hearing in your case.

If there is a default judgment against you, you should get legal advice before taking any steps.

For more information on your options when a judgment is made against you see After the case - Debtor and Responding to a Writ for the Levy of Property. For more information on setting aside a default judgment see Applying to set aside default judgment and Applying to set aside default judgment - Step by step guide​.

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8. I have a judgment from the Local​ Court but the debtor still has not paid me. How can I force them to pay me?

If you have a judgment and the debtor still does not pay, you can take action to try and make the judgment debtor pay the debt. This process is called 'enforcement'.

There are a number of ways you can enforce the debt.

  • Writ for levy of property. This allows the sheriff to take and sell property.
  • Garnishee order. This is an order that money be taken out of the debtor's wages or a bank account.
  • Examination notice. This is a notice asking the debtor to provide information on their financial situation.
  • Bankruptcy or winding up a company.

If you are considering trying to make the debtor bankrupt or winding up a company you should get legal advice. Bankruptcy can be expensive and complicated.

For information on options for enforcing the judgment see Enforcing a judgment debt.


9. I have a judgment against me. I ​agree I owe the money but I cannot pay. I am worried about what is going to happen now.

A judgment is an order from a court to pay money to the creditor. If you do nothing and do not pay the debt, the creditor can take steps to force you to pay. This is called enforcement. For more information about the steps a creditor can take to enforce a debt see, Responding to enforcement action.

If you cannot pay the judgment debt, there are some things you can do. You could negotiate with the creditor to pay the debt. See Negotiating with the creditor after judgment for information. If the creditor will not negotiate you can make an application to the court to pay the debt off by instalments. For information on making this application see Payment by instalments - Debtor.

Once an instalment order is made, and as long as you pay the instalments, the creditor cannot take any other steps to enforce the debt. ​