Recovery of goods 

This topic explains what you can do if you have a dispute about goods. The goods may be any property that belongs to you, including cars, jewellery, animals and furniture.

You might have a dispute about ​goods because:​

  • ​you left goods with a friend or family member, and they won't give them back
  • someone left their goods with you, and they want them back.

​This topic is divided into the following sections:

    ​​​Types of goods

    You can use the information in this topic to help you resolve a dispute about personal property – goods such as cars, jewellery, animals or furniture.

    Different laws apply to situations such as:

    • property attached to land
    • liens 
    • goods left behind by a tenant at the end of a tenancy
    • goods left in storage with a business or at a repair shop to be fixed
    • Property Recovery Orders in an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) case
    • disputes about property after a marriage or de facto relationship has ended
    • goods left with a pawnbroker
    • animals left on a property to graze (known as 'agistment')
    • stolen goods.

    If one of these situations applies to you, you should get legal advice to find out the best way to resolve your dispute.

    For more information, see Types of goods. 

    What are the goods worth?

    It is important to work out the value of the goods in dispute because it is possible to claim money, instead of the return of the goods. 

    For more information, see What are the goods worth?​

    Making a claim

    If someone has your goods and won't return them, you can make a claim asking them to return the goods to you (or pay you the monetary value of the goods). You can phone them, send them an email or sms, or write them a letter. A common way to make a claim is to send a letter of demand.

    For more information, see Making a claim.

    Responding to a claim

    If someone is trying to get goods back from you, they may send you a letter of demand, or they might phone you, or send you an email or sms. There are different ways that you can respond to their claim, including writing a response to their letter of demand.

    For more information, see Responding to a claim.

    Resolving your dispute

    If you have a dispute with someone about goods, it is really important to try to resolve that dispute without going to court. Talk to the other person, negotiate with them, or try mediation.​

    For more information, see Resolving your dispute.

    Going to court

    If you can't resolve your dispute, you may end up in court. If you are trying to get your goods back, you will need to decide whether to start a case. If someone is trying to get goods back from you and they start a case against you, you will need to decide how to respond to the court case. However, it is a good idea to try to avoid going to court by settling (resolving your dispute by agreement), if possible. 

    For more information, see Going to court.

    Flowcharts​

    If you want a visual overview of how to make or respond to a claim for goods, see Flowcharts.

    Frequently asked questions

    This section has answers to common questions that you may have about disputes over goods – when someone won't return your goods, or someone is trying to get goods back from you. This is a good starting point if you're not sure where to begin your search for information.

    For more information, see Frequently asked questions​.

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