If you desire to start court action against another party, the first step is to lodge a statement of claim. This is a document that stipulates why you are lodging a claim against another party and provides what they owe you. This document provides facts that are relevant and support your claim. Moreover, it must explicitly detail the facts to prevent any delay or re-drafting to accurately reflect your purpose. Here are some functional details of a statement of claim.

Purpose

The primary purpose of a statement of claim is to begin court proceedings. It would be recommended to first seek legal advice before initiating your claim to assess its probability of being successful. Accordingly, the monetary value of your claim will affect the type of court which will hear your claim. The Magistrate Court deals with amounts up to $150,000; the District Court deals with amounts between $150,000 and $750,000; and, the Supreme Court deals with amounts over $750,000.

Additionally, you will use this document to provide the facts that you will use to plead your case. By doing so you do not surprise the other party and they have an opportunity to dispute your facts. Consequently, you cannot argue information outside your statement of claim so it is imperative that you correctly draft your document. Since every detail is disclosed, the statement of claim will also provide the remedy or compensation you are seeking. Typically, statements of claim concern: breaches of contract, damage to vehicles, money owing on a debt, or defamation. In most of these situations, the plaintiff will seek damages as compensation by the defendant for some sort of failure on their part.

Defendant’s Perspective

The statement of claim must be served on the defendant after it has been filed in court. Any adult can serve the defendant with the statement of claim but its delivery varies with the type of party, ie. individual, company, a person outside of the State. Ideally, you should directly hand the statement of claim to the individual or entity. It is necessary to correctly serve the defendant as this establishes the jurisdiction of the court.

Once you have served the defendant you must notify the court by completing a notification affidavit and then wait 28 days for the defendant to respond. If the defendant decides to dispute the claim you have 14 days to file a reply in response to their defence and go to court. If the defendant fails to acknowledge the served statement of claim, you may seek a default judgement or money order for the amount outstanding at least 28 days after the document was served. However, you must evidence that you actually served the statement of claim to receive a valid judgement.

Conclusion

A statement of claim is the key initiator in court proceedings. To avoid any discrepancies in court, accurately draft your document and correctly serve the defendant. It is encouraged to seek legal advice prior to commencing a statement of claim to be sure in what you are claiming and avoid legal pitfalls.

Need more information? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace. 

Jakub Grzybowski

Jakub is a legal intern at LawPath as part of the content team. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University. His main interest is on the integration of legal and technological services.