This information is for consumers in consumer/trader disputes over:
- hiring or buying goods for private use
- getting services for private use
which can go to court as consumer/trader claims in the Magistrates Court.
Who is a consumer?
For consumer/trader claims in the Magistrates Court you are a consumer if you are a person who has hired or bought goods or services for private use.
You are not a consumer if you:
- are a tenant
- have bought or hired goods or services for resale or to let, hire or use in connection to a business deal.
Who is a trader?
For consumer/trader claims in the Magistrates Court a trader provides goods or services as part of a business. It can include providers of professional services such as doctors and lawyers. Someone who sells something privately is not a trader.
What if I have a building dispute?
For more information go to Building disputes.
What should my first steps be?
Going to court should be your last resort. Before going to court you:
- could contact the person you have a dispute with and try to reach an agreement
- can send a letter making a demand about what you want done, eg the work to be finished by a certain date or the return of goods within a certain time.
The letter of demand should be sent by registered mail and the signed postal receipt kept as well as a copy of the letter.
For information on what to put in a letter of demand see under heading What should I put in a letter of demand? at Collecting a debt - first steps.
If you are a consumer and you have had no success in trying to resolve a problem with a business or trader you can lodge a formal complaint with the Department of Commerce - Consumer Protection Division . Consumer Protection may be able to offer conciliation to help you resolve your dispute.
For information on other ways you may be able to resolve your consumer/trader dispute if you are a consumer without going to court go to Contracts.
What if my claim is under $10,000?
You can start your case as a minor case claim in the Magistrates Court. Normally you will not have legal representation at court but you should get legal advice before starting your case.
You can also start it as a general procedure claim in the Magistrates Court. However in if your claim is under $10,000 and you elect not to have the claim dealt with as minor case, you will have to pay all your legal costs even if you win.
For more information on minor case claims go to Starting a minor case claim. There is a special form for consumer trader minor case claims.
What if my claim is over $10,000?
You can start your case as a general procedure claim in the Magistrates Court. For more information on general procedure claims go to Starting a general procedure claim. There is a special form for consumer trader general procedure claims.
Do I need legal advice before going to court?
Yes. You should always seek legal advice before going to court.
For more information on what sort of issues you need legal advice on:
What outcomes can I get at court?
There are several remedies or orders that can be made depending on the issues in your case.
The court can make orders for:
- a person to do or not to do something (including to provide a service) or to stop doing something
- work to be done
- the return of goods
- the replacement of goods
- payment of money
- refund of your money
- relief from payment of an amount of money
- award the cost of having work done by another contractor.
Get legal advice especially if you are not sure you can get the outcome you want by going to court.
Where can I get more information?
- Contact Legal Aid WA's Infoline on 1300 650 579 for information and referral.
- If you are a consumer contact the Department of Commerce - Consumer Protection Division on 1300 304 054 for help in resolving a dispute with a trader.
- If you have a small business and have a dispute over contracts for the supply of goods and services to your business (or some other types of disputes) you may be able to get assistance in resolving your dispute through the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) WA. Contact the SBDC on 13 12 49.
- Go to the Magistrates Court of WA- civil website or a Magistrates Court of WA registry for more information on consumer/trader claims and the court forms you need.
Last reviewed: 20/10/2016