​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 |

Responding to a Statement of Claim

If someone believes you have goods which belong to them, they may start a court case against you. They do this by filing a document called a Statement of Claim with the Local Court of NSW.

Handy hint iconThe person who starts a case is called a 'plaintiff'. The person who the case is against is called a 'defendant'.

A Statement of Claim is a court document that sets out what goods the plaintiff claims belong to them and why they are making the claim. You should be sent or served with (given) a copy of the Statement of Claim.

Claims for the return of goods valued at  less than $10 000 are made in the Small Claims Division of the Local Court. The information in this section of the LawAssist website is on the procedures in the Small Claims Division only.

Alert iconWhen you get a Statement of Claim it is important to get legal advice as soon as possible. If you don't respond within 28 days the plaintiff may get judgment against you.

Alert iconThe plaintiff may also claim damages from you for income lost because they could not use the goods. This site does not provide information regarding claims for damages. If the plaintiff is claiming damages, you should get legal advice.

After you have received the Statement of Claim you have a number of options.

    ​Ask for more information (request for furth​​er and better particulars)

    Sometimes a Statement of Claim will refer to things you are not sure about. It may:

    • refer to dates, events or conversations that you don't recognise or remember.
    • refer to documents that you are not sure if you have seen or received.
    • have few or no details about the goods.

    Without this information it may be hard to work out whether you should return the goods. It will also be hard to prepare your Defence form if you decide to defend the claim.

    You can write to the plaintiff and ask them for more information. This is known as 'a request for further and better particulars'.

    For more information, see Further and better particulars - after being served with a Statement of Claim in the 'Debt - small claims' topic of this website.

    Negotiate with the plaintiff

    You could try to negotiate directly with the plaintiff. The plaintiff may agree to withdraw (discontinue) the court claim if you:

    • return the goods or
    • pay for the goods.

    If the plaintiff agrees to discontinue the case you should ask them for a copy of the Notice of Discontinuance (a document informing the court that the plaintiff is stopping the case).

    For the steps you should take if you are able to reach an agreement with the plaintiff, see Settling the case in the 'Debt - small claims' topic of this website.

    Alert iconYou should get legal advice before you offer to return or pay for the goods.

    Return the goods 

    If you agree that the goods should be returned to the plaintiff you can make arrangements to do so. If you want to return the goods you should try to come to an agreement with the plaintiff about how to end the case. You can:

    • enter into a Deed of Settlement or Deed of Release with the plaintiff which states how the dispute should be resolved and stops any other claims being made against you in relation to the goods (for example, for damages), and have the plaintiff discontinue the case
    • write terms of settlement, which outlines how the case is to be finalised, and have the court make orders according to the terms. You will also need to file a Notice of Appearance, which is a document that tells the court you are aware of the claim and want to take part in the case. 

    Alert iconYou should get legal advice before agreeing to settle a case or signing a deed or agreement, or if you can't come to an agreement.

    For the steps you should take if you are able to reach an agreement with the plaintiff, see Settling the case in the 'Debt - small claims' topic of this website.

    For more information about agreements and settlements, see Reading and writing legal documents.

    File a Defence

    You can defend a Statement of Claim if

    • you believe you do not have to return the goods to the plaintiff
    • you think that they are claiming more money than the goods are worth, or too much in damages.

    To defend the claim you must file a document called a Defence. A Defence states that you deny some or all of the plaintiff's claim and sets out the reasons why. These reasons are called the grounds of your defence.

    Alert iconYou should get legal advice before deciding to defend a claim. You need to consider how strong your defence is, what evidence you have to support your side of the case, and what the costs will be if you win or lose the case.

    Alert iconYou must file the Defence at the same court where the Statement of Claim was issued within 28 days of being served with the Statement of Claim. If you don't file a defence within 28 days, the plaintiff can apply for default judgment against you.

    For more information, see Filing a defence - Step by step guide in the 'Debt - small claims' topic of this website.

    If you have already filed a defence see, Defended cases.

    Alert iconIf your defence is that the plaintiff has goods that belong to you or owes you money, you may have a Cross claim. If that is the case, you can file a Cross Claim with your defence.

    For more information, see Cross claims in the 'Debt - small claims' topic of this website.

    Do nothing

    If you do nothing and choose to ignore the Statement of Claim, the plaintiff may get default judgment against you without you attending court or being notified.. You can apply to the court to have a default judgment set aside.

    For more information, see Setting aside default judgment.

    Once there is a judgment against you, the plaintiff can take action to enforce the judgment. For more information about enforcement, see Responding to enforcement.

    Alert icon​Having a judgment against you can affect your credit rating. You should get legal advice if there is a judgment against you. ​​

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    Further information

    Community Justice Centres