Identify the other party
Before you send a letter of demand, you need to make sure you can find the person or business you are making a claim against. You also need to make sure you are naming the right person or business and you have their correct address.
If you do not have the correct contact details for the other party you won't be able to clearly communicate your claim to them. If you end up going to court, you may not be able to serve (give) court documents on the other party and this will cost you money and time.
Who are you making a claim against?
You need to work out whether you are claiming against an individual person or a business.
If the other party is a business you will need to know what sort of business it is: a company, sole trader or partnership. The other party could also be a co-operative or an incorporated association or a government department.
You can find out the name of the other party by looking at any documents you have from them, for example, receipts, invoices, letters and emails.
If you want to make a claim against a business or trader for goods or services, consumer laws may apply. For more information about consumer rights and to lodge a complaint, go to the Fair Trading NSW website or get legal advice.
Finding the name and address of a person
If you have a claim against a person, you will need their first and family name and their correct address.
Here are some ways you can find a person's name and/or address. If you have tried these options and still cannot find the person, you should get legal advice.
Search the White pages
To search the White Pages, go to the White Pages website.
Contact by email or social media
If you have another way of contacting a person, for example by email or online such as Facebook, you could contact them this way. You will usually need their street address if you want to go to court.
Asking other people
Ask other people who know the person.
You could hire a private investigator to find the person. 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.
Finding out information about a business
All business names are registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
To do a free business name details check, go to the Search business names register on the ASIC website. This will tell you the business name, address and who runs that business.
You can also search the Australian Business Register, which has a record of all individuals, businesses, companies and organisations that have an Australian Business Number. 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.
Sole trader or partnership
If a person or a partnership runs the business, you must make a claim against the individual business owner or the partners.
If the business is run by a company, you must make a claim against the company. A company may have a trading name that is different. You still need to make the claim against the company name. For example, your claim would be against 'Frame Ltd trading as Fantastic Florists'.
To do a free search for information on a company, go to Search ASIC Registers on the ASIC website. 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 go to How to search ASIC registers on the ASIC website.
You can also use an information broker to get information. To get the contact details, go to Information Brokers 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:
- visiting a Fair Trading Centre (go to the 'contact us' page on the Fair Trading website) or
- going to Association forms on the Fair Trading website and download the Incorporated associations search request form. Send the form to (you will not need a stamp):
Reply paid 22
Bathurst NSW 2795.
The fee for the extract is $20.00 for the first page and $1.00 for each other page (as at 1 January 2017).
Finding out information about government departments
If a NSW government department owes you money, your claim would be against 'The State of New South Wales'.
If a Commonwealth government department owes you money, your claim would be against 'The Commonwealth of Australia'.