What to do if someone owes you money
How do I start?
If you want to sue someone, you need to serve them personally with a Claim accompanied by a Statement of Claim that sets of the circumstances of why you are being sued. Or, serve them with an Application if the proceedings are started in QCAT, which is the Queensland Civil and Administrate Appeals Tribunal. You can engage a professional service agent to serve the document for you.
How can a lawyer help me?
If you want to sue someone, you should make an appointment to see your lawyer. Remember to take the documents and all other relevant paperwork with you so that a proper assessment of your position can be made. A lawyer can assist you through the complexities of the court process, draft your documents and even negotiate a settlement on your behalf. A lawyer can also represent you in Court or at a Tribunal if the matter does not settle beforehand. Almost all litigation of this type settles before a trial.
A lawyer can also advise you on your prospects of success, and help you decide if you should proceed after considering the commercial reality of the costs involved and the amount of the debt you wish to recover.
What happens after I begin Proceedings?
If the other party disputes the debt, or the amount claimed, then you will be served with a Notice of Intention to Defend and Defence or a Response depending on how the Proceedings were started. This is the other party’s opportunity to answer the case you have set out in your documents. You are referred to as the Plaintiff or the Applicant again depending on where the proceedings are started. The other party is the Defendant or the Respondent.
If the parties are not able to resolve the matter beforehand, there will be a trial before a Magistrate or Judge (in the case of a Court) or a Member (in the case of QCAT). There are rarely juries in these types of proceedings.
The Court or Tribunal will make a decision, based on the material before it, and make an Order for some or all of the money to be repaid, or dismiss the proceedings if you has not been able to prove that the money is owed to you.
What if they want to settle out of court?
You should still see your lawyer. We are trained in negotiation and we may be able to come to an agreement with the Defendant so that they can pay off the debt, and you could even agree to a reduction in the amount owed in order to settle the matter quickly and save on the costs of litigation.
What will happen if the other party ignores it?
If the other party ignores the proceedings, the matter will be heard in their absence and there will likely be a Default Judgment entered against them. This means you have won the case because they did not defend it. This allows you to ask the Court to make Orders to assist you to recover the money, even an order to sell the Plaintiff’s house.
If you have further questions about how to start court proceedings to recover money owed to you, please contact our office on (07) 3343 9522 or (07) 5446 1745 or through our contact us service here.