If the amount of money owing is less than $10,000 the claim will generally be heard in the small claims division of the local court, which uses simplified rules to quickly and efficiently resolve the matter.
The process is initiated when a statement of claim is filed in the court and then served on the party that owes the money (‘debtor’). It is important that the statement of claim be drafted competently as it provides to the debtor an outline of the claim that they must meet.
The debtor then has the option to file a defence, which sets out there reasoning as to why the money is not owed, or why the amount owed is less than the amount claimed.
The debtor has 28 days to file a defence. If a defence is not filed with 28 days, the person owed the money (‘plaintiff’), can ask that the court make a judgment in their favour without hearing from the debtor.
If there are problems with the drafting of a statement of claim, or a defence, those problems can later hinder your case when evidence is being heard.
If the debtor responds by filing a defence, the court will try to assist the parties to come to a compromised agreement. If that is not possible the matter is given a further court date at which point the parties will have a chance to tell their stories and explain their claim or defence.
In the small claims division, both parties will generally be ordered by the court to make written statements of their version of events and to give those statements to the other party. Usually the court will then determine the dispute based on the written statements.
The preparation of written statements is a crucial step in the litigation process and it is important that all the legal elements of the claim are made out in that evidence. The failure to mention one small event or discussion can often be the difference between winning and losing the case.
Despite the importance of the preparing well drafted written statements, the hearing itself is conducted with as little formality and does not require strict compliance with the rules of evidence.
If you would like more advice about debt recovery and small claims please contact us because at Everingham Solomons Helping You is Our Business.
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