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If someone is chasing you for goods or the money value of those goods, they may send you a letter of demand, or they might phone you, or send you an email or sms. There are different ways that you can respond to their claim, including:
It is best not to ignore a claim that is made against you. If you don't respond, the other party may decide to start a court case against you. This will cost time and money, and can increase the amount of their claim.
You can respond verbally, but it is a good idea to put it in writing. For more information, see Responding to a letter of demand - goods.
It is a good idea to always be polite and courteous when communicating to the other party.
If you agree to return the goods to the other party, you should make arrangements with the other party.
If you no longer have the goods, you could offer to pay the other party the money value of those goods instead.
You can do this by speaking or writing to them.
If the other party does not agree with you, they may decide to start a court case against you.
If you deny that the goods belong to the other party, you should tell them.
If you need more information to identify exactly what goods the other party is claiming and why, you can write back to them to ask for more information. You can also ask for more information about how they worked out the value of the goods. This is known as a 'request for further and better particulars'.
In your letter you should be careful not to admit or deny their claim. You should ask the other party for information and documents that will help you decide whether to return the goods or pay the money, such as:
Sample: Sample request for more information - goods.
You can contact the other party at any time to reach an agreement about the claim. You can offer to pay an amount of money instead of returning the goods, to pay a lesser sum, or to pay in instalments until the amount is paid.
Negotiating with the other party doesn't need to be formal. You can negotiate with the other party in person or on the phone, or by writing a letter, email or sms. For information on how to respond in writing, see Responding to a letter of demand - goods.
If you negotiate verbally, keep notes of any conversations you have with the other party, including dates and times. These may be helpful if you end up going to court. For more information, see Resolving your dispute – Negotiation.
If you come to an agreement, it is a good idea to put your agreement in writing. For more information, see Resolving your dispute – Put it in writing.
If you cannot reach an agreement with the other party, the other party may decide to start a case in court against you. It is a good idea to try to resolve your dispute with the other party, before going to court. For more information, see Resolving your dispute.
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 sent Rachel a letter of demand and got a letter in reply saying that Rachel would like to keep Charlie and offered to pay her $100 instead.