D.I.Y litigation: commencing a minor case claim in the Magistrates Court

 

Have you ever been aggrieved by the conduct of another person and feel that you are denied justice because legal proceedings were too costly or too time-consuming?  If so, you may be interested to know about the minor case jurisdiction (sometimes referred to as the "small claims" jurisdiction).

Most Australian States have a minor case jurisdiction.  In Western Australia, the minor case jurisdiction is governed by Part 4 of the Magistrates Court (Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 and the Magistrates Court (Minor Cases Procedure) Rules 2005.

In Western Australia, a minor case claim is a claim where the value of the debt or damages you are claiming does not exceed $10,000.  If the value of the debt or damages you are claiming exceeds $10,000, you will need to commence a regular claim, rather than a minor case claim.

The primary object of the Court when dealing with a minor case is to attempt to bring the parties to a settlement acceptable to all the parties with as little formality as the Court thinks is reasonable.

A common example of a minor case claim includes the example of a business, where you supply services to a customer for $8,000 and the customer refuses to pay you.  You may commence a minor case claim against the customer.

Generally, a minor case claim can be run for minimal cost.  When you commence a minor case, you will need to pay a Court filing fee.  The Court filing fee is currently $92.20.  If you are successful, the Court will order the defendant to pay your court fees, and the costs of enforcing the judgment (if any).  Generally, however, you will not be entitled to recover your legal fees (if any).

The minor case jurisdiction is a lawyer-free zone.  A party to a minor case claim is not entitled to be legally represented before the Court, except with the permission of the Court.  If one party is highly sophisticated, and the other party is not, the Court may allow the less-sophisticated party to be represented before the Court.

Although parties to a minor case claim are not entitled to be legally represented before the Court, we generally recommend the parties obtain legal assistance to structure their claim, draft their pleadings (i.e. their statement of claim and statement of defence) and comply with Court procedures.  Whilst there will be some cost associated with this, the cost is likely to be cheaper than a claim through other court procedures.

If you would like further information, please visit the Magistrate's Court website, or download a copy of the fact sheet - "How to commence a minor case claim".

Halseys is skilled at resolving disputes, whether through pragmatic advice, mediation, tribunals or courts.  It is rare that a matter we handle will go to trial as we are almost always able to achieve an outcome prior to this.  However, in the event that a matter does proceed to trial, we provide excellent advocacy to ensure a dispute is resolved effectively.  As we are a boutique firm, we provide our clients the benefit of close personal interaction and advice throughout the litigation process.  We continually reassess strategy to give you the strongest possible position, and will always vigorously represent your interests.

For further information, please telephone Fiona Halsey on 08 9381 2914.

 

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