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If someone has your goods and you want to get them back, you can make a claim asking them to return the goods to you or pay you the value of those goods. You can phone them, send them an email or sms, or write them a letter. Whichever method you choose, it is important to make sure you communicate clearly, stating what goods you would like back, or alternatively the money value of the goods, and that the goods belong to you.
A common way to make a claim for recovery of goods is to send a letter of demand to the person who has your goods. Before you send a letter, you will need to find out their current contact details.
It is much better to communicate with the person who has your goods, rather than start a case in court straight away.
You will need to know the name and address of the person or business who you wish to make a claim against.
If you have not been in contact with them for a while, you will need to find out if the address you have for them is current.
For more information, see Identify the other party.
A letter of demand is a letter to the other party, asking them to return your goods to you, or alternatively, pay you the money value of those goods. The letter should tell the other person what goods you want back (or how much money you want them to pay you), and what will happen if the goods are not returned or money is not paid.
For more information and instructions on how to write a letter of demand, see Letter of demand.
Case study - Natalie and her pet dog
Natalie went to Queensland for a six month work contract. She could not take her pet dog, Charlie, with her. She asked her friend, Rachel to look after her dog while she was gone.
When Natalie returned to Sydney, Rachel told her she was not going to give Charlie back. She said that Natalie had not looked after Charlie properly and left him for long periods alone. Rachel said that Charlie was better off with her. Natalie does not agree and wants Charlie back. Natalie sends Rachel a letter of demand.
The time limit to start a court case to recover goods is generally within six years from when you first demanded the return of the goods. For more information on time limits, see Going to court.