​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 |

Getting your goods back

This sectio​n sets out the steps you may have to follow to get your goods or money back from someone else.​

    ​Talk to the other person​

    If you own goods that someone else has, you should speak to the person and let them know you want your goods back.

    You could try:

    • negotiation
    • mediation.

    It is often worthwhile trying to resolve the issue without going to court, as court can take time and cost money.

    For more information, see Talk to the other person.

    Send a letter

    If you have tried to speak to the person who has your goods but haven't been successful or you can't contact them, you could try sending a letter. This is sometimes called a letter of demand or notice of demand.

    Once you ask for the goods back in a letter of demand, you usually have six years to start a case in court to claim them back.

    You should send a letter of demand, because it:

    • may avoid the need to go to court
    • can save you time and money
    • puts the defendant on notice that you are claiming ownership of the goods
    • records that you have asked for the goods back.

    For more information, see Send a letter of demand.

    Start a case

    If the other person refuses to give your goods back, and you have tried the other steps above, you can start a case in a court.

    If you decide to start a case to recover your goods and they are valued at less than $10 000, you can start a case in the Small Claims Division of the Local Court.

    The Local Court can:

    • make an order that the goods are returned to you
    • if the goods are destroyed or lost, make an order that you be paid for the value of the goods
    • make an order that the other party pay you damages for not returning your goods.

    If you are claiming goods back you may also be entitled to damages if, for example, you could not use the goods to earn an income. This topic does not provide specific information about claiming damages. If you want to claim damages, you should get legal advice.

    You start your case by filling out and filing (lodging at the court registry) a court form called a Statement of Claim.

    There is a time limit for starting a case. You must start a case within six years of when you first demanded that the goods be returned. 

    For more information, see Starting a case.

    Before you start a case, you should get legal advice. For more information, see Do I have to go to court - Questions to consider.

    Apply for default judgment

    If you file a Statement of Claim and the other side does not file a Defence within 28 days of being given the Statement of Claim, the court can make an order giving you judgment. This is called a default judgment. You can ask the court to make either:

    • an order that the goods be returned to you, or
    • an order that you be paid for the value of the goods.

    For more information, see Default judgment.

    Defended cases

    The defendant may disagree that they owe some or all of the goods you are claiming and decide to defend your claim, by having the case heard in court.

    If the defendant disagrees with your claim, they will file a Defence form and the court will send you a copy. In the Defence form, the defendant should explain why they disagree with your claim for goods. It is important that you read the Defence form carefully so you know why the defendant disagrees with your claim.

    For more information, see Defended cases.

    Appeals and reviews

    If a judicial officer, such as a registrar, magistrate or assessor, made a decision about your case, you may be able to apply for a review or appeal the decision.

    If you do not agree with a decision made by the court you may be able to apply for a review or appeal the decision.

    Any application for review, or an appeal, must be made within 28 days of the decision.

    For more information, see Appeals and reviews.

    Legal costs

    Starting a court case costs money. You have to pay a filing fee and a fee to have someone serve the Statement of Claim on the defendant, but you may be able to claim some of these costs back if you win your case.

    If you have a lawyer, you may also be able to claim legal fees back if you win, but the amount you can claim is limited. If you lose your case, you may have to pay some of the defendant's legal costs.

    If you get judgment against the defendant, it can cost money to try and enforce that judgment. In some cases you may successfully claim those costs back from the defendant.

    For more information, see Legal costs.

    Enforce a judgment

    If you get a judgment against the defendant, and the defendant still does not return your goods, you can take steps to make the defendant return the goods or pay for their value. This is called 'enforcement'.

    You can ask the court for a 'Writ for the Delivery of Goods'. This is an order that the sheriff can go to the home or business of the person to remove the goods. You can also enforce a judgment for compensation or costs through other enforcement methods.

    For more information, see Enforcing a judgment.

    Case study

    Case study - Natalie and the pet dog

    Natalie went to Queensland for a six month work contract. She could not take her pet dog, Charlie, with her. She asked her friend, Rachel to look after her dog while she was gone.

    When Natalie returned to Sydney, Rachel told her she was not going to give Charlie back. She said that Natalie had not looked after Charlie properly and left him for long periods alone. Rachel sai​d that Charlie was better off with her. Natalie does not agree and wants Charlie back. Natalie sent Rachel a letter of demand and got a letter in reply saying that Rachel would not return Charlie. Natalie filed a Statement of Claim in the Small Claims Division of the Local Court.​

    ​FA​Qs

    For answers to commonly asked questions, see Getting your goods back - Frequently Asked Questions.​​​

     

    Further information

    Community Justice Centres