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    In which jurisdiction should I pursue my debt?

    Jul 9, 2019 4:34:47 PM

    If someone owes a debt to you that they refuse to pay, you may wish to take legal action to pursue them for payment of the amount owing. If you decide to sue someone for the debt, the first question you must consider is the applicable jurisdiction. In other words, you need to ask yourself the question, ‘In which jurisdiction should I pursue my debt?’.

    In New South Wales, various courts have jurisdiction to hear debt recovery matters. However, the appropriate court in which to commence proceedings to pursue your debt depends largely upon the size of the debt. The following table may assist in determining the appropriate jurisdiction in which to pursue your debt:

    Size of the Debt


    Other Jurisdictional Matters

    Court Fees Applicable

    $0 – $20,000

    Local Court Small Claims Division


    $101 (individual)

    $202 (corporation)

    $20,000 – $100,000

    Local Court General Claims Division

    Court can hear matters up $120,000 by consent of the parties

    $249 (individual)

    $498 (corporation)

    $101,000 – $750,000

    District Court of NSW

    Court can hear matters up $1,125,000 by consent of the parties

    $681 (individual)

    $1,362 (corporation)

    $750,001 +

    Supreme Court of NSW


    $1,123 (individual)

    $3,074 (corporation)


    Before commencing proceedings in any court of law in NSW, the debt must have some connection with NSW. For example, the loan could have been made in NSW, the goods and/or services to which the debt is referable were supplied in NSW, or you or the other party live or have a business in NSW.

    You must have evidence of the debt such as copies of contracts, receipts, invoices, or correspondence that support your claim. It may bolster your evidence to have witnesses on hand who can make a statement and/or attest to the existence of the debt.

    It is always advisable to undertake a commercially minded cost-benefit to determine whether it is worth suing for the debt. Questions you might ask yourself include the following:

    1. Is the debt contested or uncontested (whether whole or in part)?
    2. Does the other side have savings, income or property that can be used to pay the debt?
    3. Do you have means to pay lawyer’s fees, court fees and the costs of enforcing judgment?
    4. Do you have time to pursue the claim to obtain a judgment debt?
    5. Do you have time to take enforcement action if the debtor does not pay the debt after obtaining judgment?

    If you have any questions regarding debt, our Litigation team gives candid advice and realistic strategies. Please contact James Frank at

    This is not legal advice. 

    Matthew Sibley

    Written by Matthew Sibley