How to Defend Against a Minor Civil Claim

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Having a claim brought against you, and having to defend it can be difficult while running a business. If you have kept proper records of any services provided or goods sold then you will be well placed to defend any claim that may be made against you.

In order to defend against a minor civil claim a form 4 from the magistrate’s court will need to be completed and filed. This can be accessed on the Courts SA website which you can access by clicking here.

You will have 21 days from the date of the claim being issued in which to file your defence. If you fail to do so, the case will be decided against you.

What must be included in this form includes:

  • The trial court and action number; and
  • The details of the plaintiff and the defendant, both of which should be able to be gathered from the form 3, minor civil claim that will be given to you.
  • Affidavit for proof of service

  • Once all of the above has been filed in, the particulars (specifics) of your defence need to be stated. This gives you the opportunity to state your version of events.

    It is important in responding to a small claim to gather as much relevant documentation and statements as possible that support your position and discredit the claims being made against you. The more evidence that you can gather, the stronger your position will be.

    It is important when responding to a claim to outline the reason that you dispute the claim. This can be due to such reasons as:

  • They are claiming entitlements they are not owed
  • The work was done properly and was not faulty as has been claimed
  • The amount billed to them was consistent with the amount you quoted
  • The goods or services provided were not defective

  • Always be as clear and concise as possible when disputing your claim. Make your points in chronological order and explain the relevance of what occurred.

    In some instances it may be proper to not only defend yourself from a small claim being made against you but to also to initiate a defence/counterclaim. To do so a form 5 from the Magistrates court needs to be completed and filed. This can be accessed from the same link given above, with the cost of filing a form 5 defence/counterclaim will be $146.00. A counter claim should be filed where you are still owed money.

    To complete a form 5 defence/counterclaim, what was included in a form 4 defence must be filled in, in addition to including the particulars of your counterclaim. You will need to state what happened, what you believe you are owed and why. Where more than one debt is owing, you will have to be clear as to the amount of each debt being sought and how each came to be owing.

    In order to properly file a defence or defence/counterclaim, it can either be filed in person by going to the Magistrates Court or be done online by clicking here.

    The defence or defence/counterclaim must also be served on the other party or their representative. This can be done in a number of ways as outlined on the affidavit for proof of service with the most common and easiest means being by sending it via registered post.

    While you may have never had a claim made against you, it is always possible that one may be made in the future. If you ensure that your business and employees follow proper procedures and keep adequate records then you will be in the best possible position to defend yourself.

    If a small claim has been brought against you, contact the MTA’s Workplace Relations on 8291 2000 or by emailing us by clicking here and we will help you through the process.