Responding to a claim
I have just received a claim listed in the Magistrates Court in WA. How long do I have to respond?
After receiving a claim you have a limited time to enter a response.
The time limit for entering a response runs from the day the claim is served on you. The response must be lodged within 14 days or, if the defendant's address for service is outside Western Australia, 21 days.
What if I don't get my response in on time?
If you fail to respond to the claim within time, the claimant can ask the court to enter judgment against you just by lodging an application. This means asking the court to decide you owe the money claimed.
Can I lodge my response late?
If the claimant has not applied for a default judgment, you may still lodge the response even if the time limit for lodging it has expired. It is rare for the claimant not to apply for a default judgment as soon as the time for entering a defence has expired.
How do I lodge my response or any consent order?
Your response and other documents lodged during your case must be lodged on the eCourtsPortal together with any fee required. You must register to lodge any documents.
If you cannot lodge electronically you can ask for an exemption for one document or all documents in your case. You must apply on the approved form. A registrar may grant your application.
The court can also for any good reason, and without a formal application or request, exempt you from lodging a document or documents electronically.
If you are exempted from lodging a document electronically, the court or a registrar may give directions to you about how to lodge the document. This might be over the counter, by email, by post or by fax.
What are my options in responding?
You have several choices depending on whether you agree you owe some, all or none of what is claimed. You can:
- Defend the claim if you do not think you owe anything.
- Agree you owe the full amount of the claim and costs
- Agree you owe part of the claim and costs
- Ignore the claim (Legal Aid WA does not advise this option).
What if I ignore the claim and do nothing?
If you don't lodge a response at the court within the time stated on the form, the claimant may apply for a default judgment to be given against you for the claim, interest and costs.
What if I think my case is not listed at the right Magistrates Court?
If you think the claim should have been started in another court, you can apply for a change of venue.
Should I get legal advice?
You should get legal advice about:
- whether you have a defence to the claim, including whether it is within time
- whether you have a counterclaim
- your chances of success at trial
- costs you may have to pay.
Reviewed: 11 April 2018