If you have been served, you should read the application as soon as possible. The person who filed the application with the Court is known as the applicant and you (as the other party) are known as the respondent.
What should I do next?
If a small claims application has been served on you, you have various options.
You might admit the claim or negotiate an agreement with the applicant and agree to pay the money as a lump sum or in instalments.
You might dispute the claim, either in part or in full. In that case, you should prepare and file a:
- Response – General federal law, or defence, and
- any supporting documents.
The application served on you will usually include a hearing date. You must attend that hearing. If you don’t attend, the Court could make orders against you if the applicant can show that you were aware of the proceedings and that they have a valid claim.
If you cannot file a response before the hearing because the applicant has not given you enough time to prepare your response, you should still attend the hearing and tell the Court that you have not had enough time to prepare a response. You should be ready, however, that a judge might still decide to hear the case on the day.
Other consumer matters
You should respond to the claim if you:
- consent to the orders sought, or
- are seeking different orders, or
- are seeking to dismiss the claim, or
- are making a cross-claim.
You must file a:
- Response – General federal law, and
- supporting Affidavit (or a defence or points of defence if the applicant filed a statement of claim or points of claim).
If you do not file a response, you must file and serve a Notice of address for service before the hearing.
Filing and serving the response
If you do respond to the claim, you will need to file and serve the response and any supporting documents within 28 days after the day on which you were served. If the hearing date is less than 28 days from when you are served, you should still try to file and serve your response at least a few days before the hearing. You should file all documents for the Court online, through eLodgment. You can follow these instructions on how to use eLodgment or see the Federal Court website.
Any documents filed with the Court must be served on the applicant. You can serve documents by delivering them in-person, posting them, emailing them or faxing them.
Seeking legal advice
You should seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. They can also explain how the law applies to your case.
For more information about getting legal assistance see Legal help.