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To start a case in the Local Court, you will need to file a document called a 'statement of claim'. In the statement of claim, you must name the person, business, company or organisation that you are making the claim against and provide their correct current address.
As the person starting the case, you are the plaintiff. The person or business you are claiming against is the defendant.
It is very important that you start your case against the right person or business and that you use the correct name for them.
If you don't name the correct person or business as the defendant, and the claim has to be amended or withdrawn, you may be ordered to pay their legal costs. Also, court fees will not be refunded.
You must have the correct address for the defendant so that you can serve them with the statement of claim. The defendant needs to receive the statement of claim and if you don't have their current address, you may not be able to properly serve the defendant and you may not be able to recover the money they owe you.
You can make a claim against:
In some situations, you might need to make a claim against more than one defendant. For example, in car accident cases there may be more than one driver at fault.
If your case is against an individual you will need:
If you don't have an address for the person, you could try to find their address by asking family or friends, writing to the person's last known residential address or email, writing to their workplace or searching the telephone directory. To search the telephone directory, go to White Pages.
Another option is to use a private investigator. You can find private investigators through internet searches or the Yellow Pages directory. You should make sure any investigator you choose is licensed and that you have discussed the fee before deciding if this is an affordable option for you.
If your claim is the result of a car accident, you might be able to get the name and address of the owner of the other car from Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), by making an access application under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009. For more information, see Identify the other party in the Car accidents topic.
If your case is against a business, you will need to work out who owns the business. A business could be owned by a:
If a person or a partnership runs the business, you must make a claim against the individual business owner or the partners. For example, your claim would name the defendant as 'Fiona Frame trading as Fantastic Florists ABN 11 123 123 000'.
All business names are registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
You can do a free business name details check on the ASIC business names register. This will tell you:
If a business name is not registered, you will need to find out who owns the business. If you cannot do this, you can make a claim against the business name but you will need to amend the statement of claim form after you find out the name and address of the owner of the business. If you cannot find the name of the business owner after doing a business name details check on the ASIC register, you should get legal advice.
If the business is run by a company, you must make a claim against the company. For example, your claim would name the defendant as 'FF Holdings Pty Ltd ACN 111 222 111 trading as Fantastic Florists'.
You can do a free search for information on a company on the ASIC organisations and business names register. The free search will give you the locality of the company but not the full address. If you want the address you will need to pay for a more detailed search.
You can do a paid search on the ASIC website. For more information on how to do this and the fees see the ASIC website on How to search ASIC registers.
You can also use an information broker to get information. Contact details for information brokers are on the ASIC website.
You can get the full name and address of an Incorporated Association from NSW Fair Trading. To do this you can request an extract from the Register of Incorporated Associations by either:
downloading an application form from the NSW Fair Trading website and send it to:Registry of Co-operatives & AssociationsPO Box 22 Bathurst NSW 2795.
The fee for the extract is $21.00 for the first page and $1.00 for each other page (as at July 2021).
You can also search ABN Lookup, which has a record of all individuals, businesses, companies and organisations that have an Australian Business Number (ABN, which is used to administer the goods and services tax).
This search can tell you the trading name of an individual, business or organisation and whether it is a sole trader, partnership, company or some other kind of entity. This information may help you with further searches on the internet.
If your claim is against a NSW government department or a Commonwealth government department, you should get legal advice.