Letter of demand
A letter of demand is a letter to the other party who has your goods, asking them to return your goods to you or pay you money for them. It warns the other party that if this is not done you may start a case to recover the goods or the value of the goods if they have been disposed.
The time limit to apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for goods left behind depends on the value of the goods and the type of order you want. For more information on time limits, see Going to NCAT. If your case does not fall under the Uncollected Goods Act 1995, you may be able to start a case in the Local Court. For more information, see Going to the Local Court.
Why send a letter of demand
It is important to clearly tell the other party that you want your goods back. They may have forgotten or not realised that they still have your goods, or there could be some other misunderstanding.
By sending a simple letter setting out your claim, you may convince them to return your goods or pay you the value of your goods and therefore avoid the need to start a case in court. This will save you time and money. If you end up having to start a case, the letter is evidence of you asking for your goods back.
If there is an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) against you, protecting the other party or anyone they have a domestic relationship with, you should get legal advice before sending a letter of demand. Sending a letter of demand may be a breach of the AVO.
How to write a letter of demand
When writing your letter, make sure you include:
- the date
- your full name
- your contact details so the other party can respond to you, for example, your telephone or fax number, email or postal address.
Your letter of demand should tell the other party:
- what goods you want back
- whether you would accept payment for the goods instead of their return
- how much the goods are worth
- that you own the goods and that they have no legal right to keep them
- the date when the goods should be returned
- how the goods should be returned, for example delivered or collected by you
- legal action may be started if the goods are not returned or payment made by the time specified in the letter
- they may be liable (responsible) to pay your costs and interest on the claim.
Before asking for payment for the value of the goods, you should get legal advice. If you later find out the goods are worth more than you thought, you may not be able to claim the extra amount. For more information, see Giving notice before disposing of the goods.
Once you write the letter:
- make a copy to keep for your records
- send the original by post, fax or email, or hand it to the person
- keep a record of where, when and how you delivered the letter.
Sample: Letter of demand - goods
How the other party might respond
After the other party gets your letter of demand they might:
- agree to return the goods and make arrangements to deliver them to you
- tell you they no longer have the goods but they will pay you money instead
- deny the goods belong to you
- ask for more information
- negotiate with you, by offering to pay you a lesser amount
- ask if you want to go to mediation
- do nothing.
If you can't reach an agreement with the other party, you may need to decide whether to start a case. It is a good idea to try to resolve your dispute with the other party first.
For more information, see Resolving your dispute.