It is vital that if you are commencing or defending a Magistrate Court claim that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Self-representation in any court can often lead to a misunderstanding of the law, the legal process, or the court’s procedures and can therefore result in unsuccessful litigation.
The Magistrates Court has a civil jurisdiction to deal with matters up to $75,000.00, generally split as follows:
- General Procedure Claim - which deals with claims for debt or damages up to $75,000.00. In this jurisdiction a lawyer can represent you and prepare and receive (from the other side) the relevant documents on your behalf.
Proceedings are of a formal nature with strict Court timeframes. If the claim is disputed and you proceed to trial, there will be a requirement for you to attend either or all of the following:
- pre-trial conference;
- listing conference; and
- trial of the issues.
In the event a party’s claim (or defence of the claim) is successful, they may be able to claim some of their legal costs (as provided under the Magistrates Court scale of costs) from the unsuccessful party.
- Minor Case Claim – which deals with claims for debt or damages up to $10,000.00.
If you make a claim under this jurisdiction a lawyer cannot represent either party, unless the Magistrates Court grants permission, due to special circumstances. However, a lawyer can assist you with preparing the relevant documentation and providing you with advice as to the merits of your claim and the general court process.
When the defendant lodges a notice of intention to defend, the case will be automatically listed for a pre-trial conference. At a pre-trial conference, the court will attempt to bring the parties to a settlement.
Unlike a General Procedure Claim, in the event that a party’s claim (or defence of the claim) in a Minor Case Claim is successful, they cannot claim any legal costs from the unsuccessful party for any legal representation they had in the matter.
Dwyer Durack have significant experience in conducting and advising on Magistrates Court claims, both General Procedure and Minor Case. If you are seeking to commence or defend a claim, please contact us today for commercially sensible and practical advice.