Unless your claim is a consumer/trader (minor case) claim, once you have lodged your claim in the Magistrates Court you will need to 'serve' or give it to the defendant. There are special rules for serving a claim.
For more information about serving a claim visit the Magistrates Court of WA website to read a fact sheet on serving a court document.
What happens after my claim is served?
From the date that the defendant is served with the claim they have 14 days (21 days if service is outside Western Australia) to lodge a response.
You cannot do anything at court until the defendant's time to respond has expired.
What happens next depends on how the defendant responds to the claim. They might pay the claim in full, agree with all of the claim, agree with part of the claim, give notice of intention to defend all or part of the claim, or ignore the claim.
If they do give notice of intention to defend the claim get legal advice immediately as you could have to pay costs.
Once the court case has started, can I settle the case before a hearing?
Disputes in the Magistrates Court can be settled at any stage until judgment is given. Many claims settle before they get to trial.
The earlier settlement takes place, the less the costs will be.
A defendant may contact you to see whether a settlement can be arranged by consent. If you reach an agreement both parties should complete a consent order form and return it to the court registry where the claim was started.
If your case has no legal merit you should settle the matter as soon as possible even if it means paying all or some of the other parties' costs to the date of settlement. Get legal advice.
I have received a "statement of defence". What is it and what should I do?
A statement of defence should set out why the defendant is arguing against your claim. Get legal advice immediately as you could have to pay costs. You may have to pay the defendant's costs if you do nothing.
I have received a "counterclaim". What is it and what should I do?
A counter claim means the defendant is making a claim against you for money or damages that arises from the same set of circumstances. Get legal advice.
It is more than three weeks since I served the claim and I have not heard anything from the defendant or the court. What should I do?
You can ask the court for judgment if the time for responding to the claim has expired. This is called default judgment. For more information go to Getting judgment without a trial.
The defendant agrees they owe me all the money I claimed. What should I do?
You can accept payment. You should give the defendant a receipt. You should also file a notice discontinuing your claim. There are different notices for claims, counterclaims and third party claims.
I have received a "notice of admission of claim". The defendant agrees they owe me all the money I have claimed. They want to repay it in full. What are my options?
- Accept the offer. You should contact the defendant to let them know you accept the offer and give them details of where and how to pay you.
- Reject the offer and go on at court to enforce the total judgment debt.
Get legal advice about which option is best in your case.
The defendant agrees they owe me all the money I have claimed. They want to repay the money in instalments. Do I have to accept instalments?
If you receive a notice of admission of claim from the court with an offer to pay by instalments you do not have to accept the offer. You can ask the court to enforce the total judgment debt. If you have to start enforcement proceedings, after getting judgment you may still end up with an instalment order
What if I want to accept payment by instalments?
If you want to accept payments by instalments you should contact the defendant and let them know you accept the offer and give them details of where and how to pay you. Receipts for payments should be given.
The defendant agrees they owe me some money but disagree about the amount I say is owed? What will happen?
With some claims, an unspecified amount is claimed because an exact amount is not known at the time the claim arose. In these cases, if a defendant has admitted liability for the claim but doesn't agree to the amount sought by you, in their response they can apply to the court to work out the amount that should be awarded for the claim.
The registrar will list your case for a pre-trial conference and let you and the other parties know in writing of the date.
The defendant agrees they owe me part of the money I have claimed. What are my options?
- Accept the part of the claim agreed by the defendant as full settlement of your claim (including costs and interest). You should lodge and serve a notice of acceptance of offer of settlement within 14 days after receiving the response.
- Not accept the part admission. If the defendant has lodged a notice of intention to defend:
- in a general procedure claim you must request the registrar to list the case for a pre-trial conference within 14 days after you receive a copy of the notice from the court
- in a minor case claim the court will list the case for a pre-trial conference.
You should get legal advice about which option is best in your case. You should get legal advice about what you have to do before the pre-trial conference.
Do I have to give more detailed information about my claim to the defendant?
If your case is defended you will need to give the defendant a statement of claim. This should give the defendant the facts relevant to your case your case and help narrow the issues in dispute. Get legal advice if you are not sure what should go in your statement of claim.
What you have to put in the statement of claim is different for minor case and general procedure claims.
A registrar at a pre-trial conference can order you to lodge and serve a statement of claim if this has not been done earlier.
When do I lodge and serve my statement of claim?
You can lodge and serve your statement of claim:
- when you lodge your claim, or
- within 14 days after a pre-trial conference if ordered by a registrar to lodge and serve it on the other party.
There are different requirements if your claim is a counterclaim.
Where can I get more information?
- Contact Legal Aid WA's InfoLine on 1300 650 579
- Go to the Magistrates Court of WA website which has the forms you may need and more information including facts sheets.
Last reviewed: 31/05/2013