Lodge a civil claim at court
You can lodge a civil claim with a Queensland court if you want to start a court action to recover money or something else owed to you. This is often called suing, or civil litigation.
Money disputes are the most common type of civil claim, however, you can also lodge a civil claim for things such as property and declaratory relief .
You should get legal advice if you are unsure what you should be claiming for.
Who can use this form
You can use this form to complete a civil claim if you are:
- an individual, a business or a litigation guardian acting on behalf of a trust or deceased estate
- the legal representative for one of those parties.
The person or entity making the claim is known as the plaintiff. The person or entity being sued is known as the defendant.
If the amount you are claiming is $25,000 or less, read the information below about other ways you could lodge a claim.
How to complete this form
To complete this form you need to provide a short description of what you are claiming (known as the claim) and the facts of the claim (known as a statement of claim).
Your statement of claim should include:
- the date(s) and place the debt happened
- the amount you are claiming and how it was worked out
- why you are owed the money (e.g. liquidated debt, damages, negligence, etc.)
- the interest you are claiming (if any) and how it was calculated—you can calculate interest using the courts’ interest calculator
- the costs you are claiming (if any).
How to lodge your claim
To lodge your claim you need to download, print and sign your completed claim and statement of claim and lodge them (in person or by post). You must lodge your originals and 2 copies (for yourself and the defendant).
The form will ask you where you want to lodge your claim (a magistrate, supreme or district court).
Which court will consider your claim depends on the amount of the dispute.
- up to $150,000 are usually heard in the Magistrates Court
- between $150,000 and $750,000 are usually heard in the District Court
- any amount more than $750,000 are heard in the Supreme Court.
It is important that you lodge your claim with the court you select in the form.
You must meet any deadlines for lodging your claim, which may be required by law. You should get legal advice to make sure you meet any deadlines.
You must pay a filing fee when you lodge your claim. The fee may be claimable as costs and can be included in your claim.
Service of documents
Once you have lodged your claim and paid the filing fee, the court registry will return sealed copies to you.
You must give (or serve) a sealed copy to each of the defendants within 12 months of filing it. You can do this yourself, or employ a commercial agent or process server. For matters with a magistrates court you may also employ an enforcement officer to do it for you.
You can find contact details for commercial agents and process servers in the yellow pages. Magistrates court staff can give you the names of enforcement officers.
Some fees you pay to serve the documents may be claimable as costs and can be included in your claim. If you’re unsure about the amount you can claim, contact the relevant magistrates court.
What happens next
If the defendant pays the amount of your claim, the matter will end.
Otherwise, the defendant has 28 days from receiving your claim to lodge documents to dispute it. In this case, your matter may need to go to court to be heard and decided. There are steps you must take before your matter can be listed for a hearing.
If the defendant doesn’t lodge documents to defend the claim, you’ll need to apply to the court to have the matter finalised in your favour.
Contact the court that you lodged your claim with for more information.
Other ways to lodge a claim
Debts up to $25,000
If your claim is $25,000 or less, it may be better to lodge it with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). The QCAT minor civil disputes process is simpler, quicker and cheaper as it doesn’t involve lawyers or legal fees.
Complete a hard copy form
You should get legal advice before starting this court action if you’re unsure about your legal rights, have any questions about the law, or want to know if your claim may succeed.
Court registry staff can help you with procedural information to do with your claim, but cannot give legal advice.
You can lodge your claim without using a lawyer, but the defendant can employ a lawyer to dispute the claim. If that happens and your claim is not successful, you will most likely be ordered to pay the defence lawyer’s fees, which could be expensive.
Read more about legal advice vs procedural information.
For more information, contact the court where you have lodged, or plan to lodge, your claim.