If you are ever in the position of trying to recover a debt or damages underneath the sum of $75,000 in Western Australia your claim is likely to fall within the Civil Jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court of Western Australia (Magistrates Court). If that is the case, here are some things to bear in mind:
- The fee that you will need to pay the Magistrates Court in order to commence the claim will be determined by whether you are commencing the proceeding as an individual ($92 – $373) or as an incorporated entity ($179 – $726). You can arrange for the Bailiff to serve the General Procedure Claim form on the Defendant(s) for a further fee.
- Following service, if the Defendant(s) do not notify the Court that they intend to defend the claim using the prescribed form within 14 days of service, you may bring an application for default judgment. An application for default judgment, if successful (together with any hearing relating to the assessment of your loss, if applicable), will entitle you to a judgment which is capable of being enforced. You will not be required to demonstrate to the Court the merits of your claim in any application for default judgment.
- If the claim is defended (which is normally the case), you are required to apply to the Court for a Pre-Trial Conference (the fee for this will range between $145.50 and $571). A Pre-Trial Conference is a compulsory meeting between the parties to a case before a Registrar. This is normally the best opportunity to resolve the dispute and each party should be in a position to explore settlement. If a party fails to attend a Pre-Trial Conference, the Registrar at the Pre-Trial Conference may give default judgment against the party (see point 2 above).
- If the value of the debt or damages you are claiming does not exceed $10,000 it will likely fall within the Minor Case Jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court. In this jurisdiction, parties are not entitled to have legal representation unless the parties agree or the Court is satisfied that none of the parties will be unfairly disadvantaged as a result.