Courts and Tribunals Tasmania

Civil Division

General Procedures

The Civil Division deals with disputes involving amounts up to $50,000 in value; and amounts in excess of $50,000 if all parties agree.

How Do You Lodge A Claim?

Claim forms can be obtained and filed at any of the Court Registries. They may also be obtained from this website, Community Legal Centres or Legal Aid Offices.

Your Claim Form must set out clearly and fully the facts and circumstances upon which you rely to define the issues in dispute in your case.

Fees 

See the current Fees Schedule 

You are required to file the original and three copies of the claim form. The court will keep a copy on file and return three copies of the form to you. You are then required to arrange for the claim form to be served on the defendant/s. If your claim has two defendants then you will need to serve each defendant with a copy of the claim form. You can do this by the following ways:

  • You or another person can personally serve the Defendant 

  • Registered Post obtained from post offices (Please make sure you ask for a confirmation slip/return signature card)

  • Engage a process server (they are found in the Yellow Pages)

Now you must wait twenty-one days from the date of service. After this 21 days has passed please return to the registry the claim form and the completed affidavit of service. If you have served the claim by registered post please attach the signed confirmation card and postal receipt to your affidavit.

Once this is done you can inquire at the court to see whether the defendant has lodged a defence. If the defendant has, then it will proceed to a court hearing. If the defendant has not, then you may proceed to enter default judgment.

After A Claim Is Lodged What Happens?

The Defendant may:

  • Pay the claim
  • Offer a settlement
  • Lodge a defence and maybe a counter-claim

If the claim is defended and the amount of claim is under $5000 it will automatically proceed to a conciliation conference. If the amount of claim is over $5000 it will proceed to a directions hearing held before a Magistrate for the purpose of:

  • Clarifying the issues in dispute
  • Ensuring both sides have prepared their case i.e. obtain witness statements, photos, etc.
  • Exploring possibilities of settlement.
  • Offering alternative dispute resolution procedures (example mediation)
  • Making any other pre-trial orders that are considered appropriate

At a later time before trial, conciliation conferences may be ordered by the Court to assist in settling the dispute.

Conciliation conferences provide the primary opportunity to resolve the dispute by negotiating a mutually agreeable resolution or compromise.

Cost penalties are imposed on parties who do not make realistic settlement offers at the conciliation conference.

Can The Claim Be Settled Without Going to Court?

Yes. Often on receiving a claim the Defendant wishes to settle without going to court. It is advisable to put in writing an offer of settlement and both parties should sign and date the Settlement Agreement. The Claim can then be finalised without going to Court. 

Even better, have the Settlement Agreement made a Court Order. This is easily achieved by both parties completing a `Consent Order` form. These forms can be obtained from any registry of the Court.

Simply - the signed Settlement Agreement goes to a Magistrate who can make an order in the terms of the agreement. This order is able to be enforced should one party not keep to their side of the agreement.

What To Do To Prepare Your Case

The Facts

Write down all the facts of your case.

Make sure that they are written in date order.

Include times, dates, places and the people involved.

Evidence

Gather together all relevant papers, e.g. invoices, accounts, leases, quotes, bank statements, letters, photographs.

Witnesses

Make sure any person who can be a witness for you is available to attend Court on the day.

Each witness will have to swear/affirm the truth of what they say.

If a witness cannot attend Court, you should raise this difficulty at the directions hearing. It may be possible for the witness to give their evidence in the form of a statutory declaration, or by use of the court's video conferencing facilities.

On The Day

Get to Court on time.

Make sure your witnesses are there.

Go through the papers you have to show to the Court.

Make sure you know the facts of the case thoroughly .

Keep in mind what you want to prove. Be prepared to negotiate with the other party in the hope of settling the matter before the Magistrate hears your case.

If no agreement can be reached between you and the other party, the Magistrate will then proceed to hear your case.

In Court

The Magistrate is called "Your Honour".

The Claimant is usually asked to present his/her opening summary and evidence first.

Speak clearly to the Magistrate - if you would feel more comfortable then read your presentation.

Refer to your witnesses as you go through the facts - they will give their evidence after you have finished.

You are entitled to put certain items into evidence i.e. photos, documents etc. Make sure all other parties are aware of your wish to tender items and have copies available for them and the Magistrate.

Once the Claimant has given all his/her evidence the Defendant can ask questions, and put his/her case.

The Claimant can also cross examine the Defendant on his/her evidence.

The Magistrate may ask questions at any time.

Once everyone has had a chance to speak the Magistrate will make his/her decision.

The Magistrates Decision

The Magistrate usually gives a decision verbally after hearing from all parties. This decision takes the form of a Judgment.

Sometimes the issues require consideration of the appropriate law and the Magistrate may adjourn the decision to a later date and, if appropriate, give written reasons for the decision.

Please note:

A copy of the final order of the Magistrate will only be forwarded to each party after the hearing if requested. The decision is final and binding on all parties. 

You can appeal to the Supreme Court from a decision handed down by a Magistrate in the Civil Division. Consult your solicitor. 

The decision is a Court Order and enforceable as a Civil Judgment. Court staff can help with enforcement advice.

Legal Advice

See our Legal advice page.