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Self-Representation and Referral Services collaborate to help co-defendants

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JusticeNet’s Self-Representation Services and Referral Service often work together to assist mutual clients.

In this case, two brothers were co-defendants in District Court proceedings concerning the alleged breach of a lease and guarantee. Default judgment had been entered against the brothers jointly and severally. The brothers do not speak English as their first language and had not participated in the District Court action because they were not served with the proceedings. When the proceedings were brought to their attention (via receipt of a Bankruptcy Notice some 14 months after default judgment had been entered against them) they did not understand the significance of the proceedings. Their plight was brought to the attention of the Federal Courts Self-Representation Service when one brother was served with a creditor’s petition, the other brother already having been made bankrupt. 

The Federal Courts Self-Representation Service discovered that key documents relied on by the creditor had never been signed by the clients. The service assisted one brother to review the sequestration order and the other to oppose the creditor’s petition. The service provided them with legal advice, drafted relevant documents and then assisted them in negotiations with the creditor. The service also referred the brothers to JusticeNet’s State Courts Self-Representation Service for advice in relation to how to set aside the default judgment and assistance in preparing an application and affidavit in support.

At the request of the State Courts Self-Representation Service, JusticeNet’s Referral Scheme then referred the brothers to Dylan Steel, Special Counsel at Gilchrist Connell, who negotiated for the default judgment to be set aside and the District Court proceedings to be discontinued, and the Federal Circuit Court actions to be resolved with the creditor agreeing to set aside the sequestration order in respect of one brother and to dismiss the creditor’s petition that had been served on the other brother.

To round matters off, the Federal Courts Self-Representation Service assisted the clients to take the necessary procedural steps to finalise the Federal Circuit Court actions.

* name changed to protect privacy.

First published 12 Apr 2017
Image credit: Frankie Cordoba

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