Before commencing proceedings in court, notice of intention to sue should be given to the debtor. If no notice of intention to sue is given, the costs of filing the claim will not be recoverable. Notice of intention to sue can be given by EITHER filling out and serving a Final Notice of Claim (Form 1A) OR sending a Letter of Demand.
Final Notice of Claim
A Final Notice of Claim gives notice to the defendant that you intend to start an action to claim the debt owed to you. This form can be obtained from the Magistrates Court Registry or or from the Magistrates Court website online (click here). There is a cost for the form. The Registry will stamp the form, but you must post it yourself; the court will not do it for you.
After serving the form on the defendant, you must wait a minimum 21 days for a response before taking any further action. Send an Enforceable Payment Agreement with the Final Notice of Claim if you are willing to accept payment in instalments.
Letter of demand
A letter of demand is a formal request that the debtor pay you the money owed. A letter of demand can be used instead of a Final Notice of Claim but must include:
- the date the letter was written
- the amount owed
- why the debt is owed (e.g. there was a contract, or services were provided)
- a demand for payment within 21 days from the date of the letter
- a statement that you intend to take legal action if the money is not paid within 21 days
- copies of agreements or invoices if applicable
- a warning that the court can order the debtor to pay the costs of any legal proceedings should the debtor fail to pay on demand
See below for a sample letter of demand.
There are two ways you can serve a Final Notice of Claim or letter of demand:
Keep a copy of the document and make a record of the date it was sent. A posted document is assumed to have been received by the person it was addressed to.
Registered Post provided proof of receipt of the document. You can organise and pay for your document to be sent by Registered Post at any post office. While using Registered Post shows the letter was sent, it is not strictly necessary.
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