The Magistrate will deliver his Judgment and you will either be successful or not with your claim.


If you are successful at the trial, the other party who is now known as the respondent will be ordered to pay you as the applicant the amount the magistrate awarded you. Be prepared to discuss this with the respondent.

Even if you are successful at the trial, the respondent may refuse to pay, they may claim they aren’t able to pay or take a very long time to pay you. If this occurs there are a number of things you can do to recover the money. Contact the CourtSA Registry on 8204 2444 to receive some procedural advice or contact the Legal Services Commission on 1300 366 424 for advice on how to recover your money.

Investigation summons

An investigation summons requires the respondent now referred to as the judgment debtor to come back to court for an investigation of how they may pay you. They will be summonsed to appear in court. You will also need to appear in court at the same time if the summons has been served.

To ensure the summons has been served and that the matter will be listed for hearing on that date please contact the CourtSA Registry on (08) 8204 2444 on the day prior to the hearing.

The court will investigate the means of the judgment debtor has to pay the judgment amount. You will be given an opportunity to ask about the judgment debtors ability to pay. Once the investigation is complete, the court will make an order for payment according to what the court decides the judgment debtor is able to pay. This means the court can order payments to be made in instalments at regular intervals. For example, $50 every month until the full amount is paid. Remember though, the court will only make the judgment debtor pay an amount they can afford so it is likely to take some time for you to recover the full amount.

If two payments are not met, you can issue the judgment debtor with an examination summons. This means that the judgment debtor will have to come back to court and explain why payment was not made. The court has the power to adjust any payment order it made previously in order for the judgment debtor to comply.

Warrant of sale

A warrant of sale can be ordered by the court for a Sheriff’s officer to seize and sell goods owned by the judgment debtor to settle the debt. Goods to the value of the amount owed will be seized and sold. A warrant of sale is valid for 12 months from the date it is issued by the court. There is a cost to issue and execute a warrant of sale (see Fees payable to Sheriff’s Officers)

A warrant of sale will not allow certain goods owned by the defendant to be seized and sold. This includes:

  • items used for the purpose of earning a living
  • goods on hire or lease agreements
  • household goods, clothes and vehicles that are worth less than $2 500.

Charging order

A charging order is an order that can be made if you know that the judgment debtor owns real estate in their own name. The court can issue an order stating that the judgment debtor cannot sell or transfer the land until the debt is paid. A charging order can be registered with the Lands Titles Office to ensure the property cannot be dealt with in any way until the debt is paid.

Garnishee order

A garnishee order can be issued if you know someone else owes the judgment debtor money (e.g. bank account, wages but only with the debtor’s consent). This order from the court will direct that the money owed to the judgment debtor be paid directly to you, so that you can ensure any money coming to them is used to settle the debt to you.

If you don’t succeed at trial the case is closed and you will not recover the money you claim was owed to you. If the other party has filed a counterclaim and judgment is awarded in their favour on the counterclaim, you will have to pay them the amount of the judgment. If you do not pay, the other party will be able to take further court action to force you to settle that debt. Make sure you tell the court if you think you may have difficulty paying the judgment amount so arrangements can be made for you to pay in instalments.

If you don’t succeed, it is likely that you will have to pay the costs of the other party. Costs are given to the successful party to compensate them for the time and costs of defending the claim. Costs in a civil action are kept to a minimum but will usually include filing fees, witness fees and appearance fees. If the magistrate awards costs to the other party, you must pay as soon as possible.

If you disagree with the decision of the magistrate, you may apply to the District Court (not Magistrates Court) for a review of the judgment. You can do this by making an application at the civil registry of the District Court, located in Sir Samuel Way Building, Victoria Square. You have 21 days from the date of the judgment to apply for review. If you live outside Adelaide, please contact the District Court Registry on 8204 0289. You can lodge the application for a District Court review in a country Magistrates Court, but you will have to travel to Adelaide for the hearing of the review.

For further information about applying for a review, contact the District Court on the number above, or email them at or visit the registry in person.

No, you cannot bring another minor civil claim for the same matter. Once the magistrate has made a decision, it is final. The only way to challenge the decision is by applying to the District Court for a review of the decision.

CourtSA link