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Finding out who to sue

The first step in making a claim is to find out exactly who you should sue. If you do not put the correct person’s name or business name on the forms, you may have difficulty obtaining judgment or a judgment made in your favour may be set aside. If you do not find out the correct and current address, the other party may not receive your forms and you may have to start the whole process again.

Similarly, you need to identify yourself correctly on the claim form. If the claim is on behalf of your business or partnership, use this name on the claim form.

An action can be brought against a person, a business (sole trader or partnership) or a company.

To find the address of a private person:

  • see if any documents contain the person's address
  • contact the person by telephone or other available means (such as through email or social media) and ask them for their address
  • check the electoral roll.

The electoral roll is available for public inspection at any Australian Electoral Commission office. This is provided for through the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth), but does not include the right to copy or record the roll or part of the roll by electronic means [see Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) s 90A]. A person may also apply to be a silent elector, in which case their details may not be listed in the roll [s 104]. The Australian Electoral Commission will also protect personal information on the roll from misuse, but some uses are allowed under the Australian Privacy Principles and the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). Information may be disclosed for the purpose of a confidential dispute resolution process or to establish, exercise or defend a legal or equitable claim [see Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) s 16A]. For more information, see Privacy and Access to Information.

For a business (sole trader or partnership), to find the business owner's name and the correct business name and address, you can search the Business Name Register on the ASIC Connect website .

For a company, you must use the company's name and registered address on any documentation, not the name and address of individuals running the company. To find the correct company name, you can search for it using the company ABN or ACN (these numbers should be on any documentation you have from the company) on the ASIC Connect website .

To get the registered address of a company, you can:

  • download and complete Form 964 (a fee is payable - for details on search fees see ASIC's search fees webpage, OR
  • purchase the registered address from the ASIC Service Centre at Level 8, 100 Pirie Street Adelaide SA 5000, OR
  • purchase the registered address online through an information broker - for details see ASIC's information broker webpage (there will be a broker’s fee in addition to the ASIC fee)

Further information can be obtained from ASIC on 1300 300 630.

Finding out who to sue  :  Last Revised: Mon Dec 3rd 2018
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.