Claims in the Magistrates Court
What types of debt related cases can the Magistrates Court deal with?
The Magistrates Court of WA has a civil jurisdiction to deal with matters including:
- a monetary claim for debt or damages (for example, damage to property from a motor car crash)
- a consumer and trader claim
up to $75,000.
Residential tenancy claims under $10,000 and claims for the recovery of real estate up to $75,000, can also be dealt with by the court.
The Magistrates Court cannot hear civil matters that involve:
- a dispute concerning the meaning of a will, titles to land, defamation, or personal injuries from a motor vehicle accident, or
- the Building Commissioner or a dispute the State Administrative Tribunal can deal with under the Building Services (Complaint Resolution and Administration) Act 2011 (WA). As it is complicated which building cases can be dealt with you should get legal advice before starting any court action about a building dispute.
Who’s who in these cases?
The 'claimant' is the person who starts the case.
The 'defendant' is person against whom the claim is made.
What are the main types of claims in the Magistrates Court of WA?
Common claims are:
- General procedure
- Minor case
- Consumer and trader
- Residential tenancy applications.
What are minor case claims?
You can choose to have your claim heard as a minor case if:
- it is for an amount of up to $10,000
- it is a residential tenancy dispute involving an amount up to $10,000.
The aim of the minor case procedure is to help the parties to come to an agreement generally without lawyers.
If you and the defendant cannot or will not agree, the court must hear the matter at a trial and make a decision. This is only done as a last resort.
The process in minor case claims is informal and proceedings are not as complex as in those for general procedure claims. You are not expected to follow the 'rules of evidence'.
All proceedings are to be held in private unless the court otherwise orders.
You and the defendant cannot have lawyers unless all parties and the magistrate agree.
What are general procedure claims?
These claims in the Magistrates Court deal with disputes about amounts between $10,000 and $75,000.
A claim of less than $10,000 can still be started as a general procedure claim, but, in most cases, if you have a lawyer, you will have to pay your own legal costs even if you win.
The procedure in a general procedure case is more formal than in a minor case. The rules of evidence apply at the trial.
What are consumer/trader claims?
These deal with disputes between a consumer and a trader over the sale, supply or hire of goods or services up to $75,000. These claims may start as a general procedure or minor cases consumer/trader claim depending on the value of the claim.
Which residential tenancy claims can be dealt with?
Owners or tenants can apply to enforce certain conditions of a residential tenancy agreement or claim monies under the agreement which do not exceed $10,000.
- Understanding civil proceedings - Magistrates Court of WA has information on the different types of civil claims that can be made.
- Self-Represented Litigants Procedural Guide for claims in the civil jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court of Western Australia- Magistrates Court of WA has information that may help you if you do not have a lawyer.
Reviewed: 6 September 2022