Magistrates court

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Consumer

The Magistrates Court deals with disputes between consumers and traders with claims of up to $75,000.

You can opt for a less formal, more private, process without the need for lawyers if your claim is less than $10,000.  For claims over $10,000 the matter is dealt with in a court (with or without lawyers).

Going to the Magistrate's Court

Going to court is not necessarily expensive or difficult. This fact sheet provides information on what you need to do to be ready to make the best possible case.

Going to the Magistrate's Court

Sample claims

If you decide to take someone to court, you will need to describe your claim on a court form (available from a court registry, printed from the Magistrate Court, or completed through the Magistrate Court’s  online lodgement process). In any case, the description or details of your claim should simply summarise what happened and what you want. It may include the date of transaction, the date when any problem arose and details of the transaction or issues between the parties.

We recommend you don’t attach contracts or photos to the form, but merely refer to them in the description and bring them to court conferences and hearings.

Cases between a consumer and a trader that involve damages shouldn’t be lodged as consumer/trader claims, but rather as claims for debt or damages (minor case or general procedure claims).

The following are scenarios based on actual complaints to Consumer Protection, and suggested ways to describe the claims on court forms.

A claim for damages

A consumer contracted a removalist to move her belongings to her new house. When the consumer inspected the lounge suite after the move she found it was damaged. The removalist claimed the damage was there prior to moving the lounge suite and would not accept liability. Neither party took photos of the lounge suite prior to the move and both denied they caused the damage. As they were unable to reach an agreement, Consumer Protection referred the consumer to the Magistrates Court for further action.

Description of claim:

  1. The Claimant and the Defendant:
    1. agreed the Defendant would move the Claimant’s furniture to 10 Acacia Avenue, East Perth on 12 April 2013,
    2. signed a written agreement on 12 March 2013 setting out the terms of the move.
  2. The Defendant moved the Claimant’s furniture to 10 Acacia Avenue on 12 April 2013.
  3. The furniture moved by the Defendant included a leather lounge suite owned by the Claimant.
  4. The Defendant’s employees or contractors damaged the leather lounge suite by causing a 10 centimetre rip to the front panel. A photograph of the damage is attached.
  5. The Claimant got three quotes to have the lounge suite repaired. The lowest was for $500.
  6. The Defendant owes the Claimant $500 and interest.

Unreasonable delay in delivery

A consumer contracted a tradesperson to build a fence around his property after the old one fell down in a storm. The tradesperson originally stated construction would be completed eight weeks after the deposit is received. Three months after taking the deposit no work had been done. The tradesperson had been delaying the construction of the fence by not showing up, not having the right tools or blaming it on the supplier of the product. After the consumer lodged a complaint with Consumer Protection the tradesperson told the Conciliation Officer he would come within the next week. After the tradesperson did not show up again the consumer was referred to the Magistrates Court for further action.

Description of claim:

  1. The Defendant runs a fencing business.
  2. The Claimant and the Defendant:
    1. agreed the Defendant would build a fence at the Claimant’s house at 10 Acacia Avenue, East Perth along its boundary with Acacia Avenue, at a cost of $3,000,
    2. signed a written agreement on 12 April 2013.
  3. The Claimant paid the Defendant a deposit of $1,000 in cash on 12 April 2013.
  4. The Defendant told the Claimant on 12 April 2013 he would build the fence within eight weeks.
  5. The Defendant has not built the fence. 
  6. The Defendant owes the Claimant $1,000 and interest.

Unacceptable quality

A consumer hired a videographer to film and produce a DVD of her wedding. The consumer received the DVD within a reasonable time; however, it was not of the same quality as a sample DVD she was shown prior to her wedding. The trader claimed he did the best he could with the venue conditions on the day and is not willing to refund the cost of the DVD. The consumer still wishes to keep the DVD as it’s the only footage of the wedding she has. Consumer Protection referred the consumer to the Magistrates Court as the matter was unable to be conciliated.

Description of claim:

  1. The Defendant runs a wedding filming business.
  2. On 12 December 2012 the Claimant visited the Defendant’s studio in West Perth and the Defendant showed the Claimant samples of his work.
  3. The Claimant and Defendant:
    1. agreed the Defendant would record the Claimant’s wedding at Kings Park on 12 March 2013 and produce a DVD of it,
    2. agreed the Claimant would pay the Defendant $2,000 for his work,
    3. signed a written agreement on 12 December 2012.
  4. The Claimant paid the Defendant $2,000 on 12 December 2012 in cash.
  5. The Defendant recorded the Claimant’s wedding and sent her the DVD on 12 April 2013.
  6. The quality of the DVD is inferior to the quality of the samples the Defendant showed the Claimant. The picture quality is dark and the images are fuzzy.
  7. The Claimant seeks compensation from the Defendant.

False and misleading advertising

A consumer purchased a boat advertised as having a rebuilt engine with only 48 hours’ use. The motor failed after six hours’ use. A mechanical inspection confirmed a major failure of the outboard motor with evidence of previous substandard repairs on the crankcase. The mechanic didn’t consider the motor to be repairable. The trader refused to have the matter conciliated by Consumer Protection, stating he can't afford to replace the engine.

Description of claim:

  1. The Defendant is a boat selling business.
  2. On 12 March 2013 the Claimant visited the Defendant’s premises in Osborne Park. He spoke to a sales representative, Trevor Smith.
  3. Trevor Smith showed the Claimant a Fishing Runaround boat, model XXY.
  4. Trevor Smith told the Claimant:
    1. the boat had a rebuilt engine, 
    2. the rebuilt engine had only been used for a total of 48 hours.
  5. The Claimant agreed to buy the boat for $9,000.
  6. The Claimant and the Defendant signed a written agreement on 12 March 2013.
  7. The Claimant paid $9,000 by bank transfer on 12 March 2013.
  8. The Claimant used the boat for six hours and then its engine failed.
  9. The Claimant took the boat to Mr Boat Expert of Repairaboat Pty Ltd. A report from Mr Boat Expert states there was a major failure of the outboard motor with evidence of previous substandard repairs on the crankcase. The motor cannot be repaired.
  10. Mr Boat Expert quoted a cost of $3,000 for a new engine.
  11. The Defendant owes the Claimant $3,000 and interest.

More information

The following provide furhter information about going to court and court orders. 

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