Department of Justice is now the Department of Communities and Justice. Find out more >
There are five steps to follow when you make a small claim in the Federal Circuit Court:
You will need two forms:
You can get copies of the forms from the:
If you want to claim more than $20 000 in the Federal Circuit Court, you cannot use the small claims form. You need to file an affidavit with the application form instead. You should get
legal advice if your claim is more than $20 000.
You can fill out the forms by hand using a blue or black pen (make sure it's neat). You can also fill them out online and then print them. When filling them out, you will need to provide information about:
Once you have filled out all the information, you need to sign the form.
Once you have completed the forms, you need to file them at the Federal Circuit Court. To find the court closest to you, go to the
Federal Circuit Court website.
If you can't get to the court to file your documents, you can file them by post. You should contact the
Federal Circuit Court to find out where to send your documents.
The filing fee (as at 1 July 2020) is:
If you do not have the money to pay the filing fee, you receive a Centrelink payment or you are under 18 you may not have to pay the fee. For more information, go to the 'Exemption From Paying Court Fees' page on the
Federal Court website.
If you win your claim against your employer, you may, in limited circumstances, be awarded costs. This means the court could order the other side to pay your filing fee. For more information, see
You should file at least four copies of each form, including the originals.The court will keep the originals and return the copies to you with the court stamp on them. You will need to:
When you file the form, the court will write the date for the first directions hearing underneath 'First court date' in the application form. You will need to attend court on this date.
Serve means to give the forms to your employer.
If your employer is an individual, this means personally giving them the application and claim form, or if they won't take them, putting the documents down in their presence and telling them what they are.
If your employer is a company, you can serve them by:
The forms need to be served at least seven days before the date set for the first directions hearing.
You can serve the forms yourself or you can get someone else to do it for you. There are professionals, called 'process servers' who can serve them for you. However, you will have to pay them.
If you have to pay a process server you may be able to, in limited circumstances, claim this back from your employer if you win your case.
You may not be able to serve the forms because, for example, you can't find your employer or they are avoiding you. It is possible to apply to the court for 'substituted service'. Substituted service means that you can use another way to make sure your employer knows about your application (for example, by email).
You should get
legal advice if you are having trouble serving the forms.
If you served the forms, you will need to fill out another form called an 'Affidavit of Service'. The Affidavit of Service is evidence that you served the application and small claim form on your employer. This tells the court that the employer knows about the case. You can get a copy of the Affidavit of Service form from:
Instructions: Instructions for filling out an Affidavit of Service.
Sample: Affidavit of Service
If you used a process server to serve the application and claim, make sure they give you an Affidavit of Service.
After you have served the application and small claim forms on your employer, they may:
If your employer wants to negotiate with you, you should get
legal advice about their offer of settlement.
The Response is a form filed by your employer and given to you. It says what parts of your claim your employer agrees with, what parts they disagree with, and why. If your employer also wants the court to make any other orders, they can ask for this in the Response.
If your employer is going to file a Response, they should do so within 14 days of getting your application and claim forms. The Response should also be given to you within this time.
Sample: Employer's Response
If your employer files a Response, or does nothing, you should check the date for the first directions hearing on the application form. You should go to this hearing even if you don't get a Response from your employer.
For more information, see
If, after filing and serving your application and claim, your employer pays you what you say you are owed, you may decide to stop your case. This is called 'discontinuing your case'.
For more information, see
Stopping your case.
You should get
legal advice before stopping your case.