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Finding out who to sue

The first step in making a claim is to find out exactly who you should sue. If you do not put the correct person’s name or business name on the forms, you may have difficulty obtaining judgment or a judgment made in your favour may be set aside. If you do not find out the correct and current address, the debtor may not receive your forms and you may have to start the whole process again.

Similarly, you need to identify yourself correctly on the claim form. If the debt is owed to your business or partnership, use this name on the claim form.

An action can be brought against a person, a business (sole trader or partnership) or a company. If you are not sure who to sue, check any contracts, invoices that you have issued or emai or other type of correspondence. If you have an ABN for the person or entity, you can also check the Australian Business Register, which should identify if you have been dealing with a sole trader, partnership or company. Searching this register is free.

NB the Australian Business Register is different from the Australian Business Name Register - see further information below.

Person

To find the address of a private person:

  • see if any documents contain the debtor’s address
  • ring the person and ask them for their address
  • check the White Pages
  • check the electoral roll

Business

To find the business (sole trader or partnership) owner's name and the correct business name and address, you can search the Business Name Register on the ASIC Connect website (Business Name Register search). You should name the individual or partners (one or more names) followed by Trading As the business name: John Smith T/A John's Car Repairs.

Company

For a company, you must use the company's name and registered address on any documentation, not the name and address of individuals running the company. To find the correct company name, you can search for it using the company ABN or ACN (these numbers should be on any documentation you have from the company) on the ASIC Connect website (Company Register search).

To get the registered address of a company, you can:

Further information can be obtained from ASIC on 1300 300 630.

Finding out who to sue  :  Last Revised: Mon Dec 19th 2016
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.