Posted September 15, 2018 08:03:55 Sam Friedmann is one of Australia’s most well-known small claims lawyers.
In an era of soaring small claims cases, Friedman is one to watch.
But he says his experience has been a mixed one.
“I think it’s a little bit different,” Mr Friedmann said.
“You don’t know whether you’re going to get the right outcome or not.”
‘No way’ for a small claims court to hold him accountable Mr Friedman’s experience with the small claims system has been “a little bit of a mixed bag”, he said.
In the past year, he has represented thousands of claimants in court and had to defend some of his clients in court.
He said the small claim system had become a “gift to the rich”.
“I’d say it’s not fair for those of us who are the poor, and those of the rich, that we have to pay the court and the court can hold the lawyer accountable for what they’ve done,” he said of the system.
‘A complete failure of the small claimant system’ Mr Friedmans experience in the small claimants system has “been a complete failure”, he added.
“It’s just a complete complete failure for small claims to work in this country, and I don’t think it has ever worked for anyone.”
A small claims lawyer can take the lead for a claim if there is a financial imbalance and the claim is $5000 or less, or if there are multiple claimants who are eligible for payment.
The small claims tribunal has been criticised for its inability to hold a lawyer accountable in a “fraudulent” way, and for not adequately investigating claims.
“The tribunal has a completely dysfunctional process and I have had cases where they’ve been accused of fraud and you know what, they’ve had a lawyer and they’ve filed a claim,” Mr Friedman said.
Mr Friedmen is also an expert witness in many small claims disputes, including for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) claimants.
“If you have a claim that is for $5000, you’re entitled to $5000,” he explained.
“And if you have more than $5000 then you are entitled to a court order to pay that amount.”
The NDIS claims claim is the most common small claims claim in the country, with the average claim being $3,500.
But the NDIS was designed to be a “single point of contact” system for claimants to lodge claims.
Mr Friedman’s experience in representing NDIS claimants has left him frustrated with the system’s structure.
“We’re dealing with a system that’s not designed for small claimants and I’m quite disappointed that there is no accountability for the system,” he added