Preparing for Court

When do I need to go to Court?

Generally, when an originating application is filed, the listing details are inserted on the first page of the document. The listing details are the – time, date and place when the parties need to come to Court. If you are advised that the date for hearing is “To be advised”, then you will be notified of the listing details by Registry shortly after filing.

You can also check on the Commonwealth Courts Portal (CCP) to see when your matter is listed.

The Daily Court List is available from the Court’s website, the afternoon before your hearing date. You can check the list to confirm the time your matter is listed and find out what courtroom you will be in.

On the day of your hearing you should also check (in case there are any changes) the Court List which is available in each Registry, for the courtroom and time. You should aim to get to the Court with enough time to allow you to find the courtroom and make sure you are in court on time.

What do I need to bring to Court?

You should make sure that you bring a copy of all the documents that you have filed at the Court or have been served with.

You should also be prepared with any relevant material that you might need for your matter.

How can I get assistance if I have a disability?

If you have any practical needs that the Court should know about, please contact the Registry where your matter is being heard at least one week before the hearing so that the Court can make the proper arrangements.

For example, you need to tell the Court if you:

  • require a hearing loop
  • require regular breaks to attend to an infant or for a medical reason
  • have any other special needs due to disability

Can I attend Court by phone or video?

If you want to attend the Court by phone or video you need to raise this with the Court in plenty of time before your hearing date.

It is up to the Judge dealing with your case to allow a person to participate by videoconference or telephone. This is more likely for case management hearings than for trial.

Witnesses may be permitted to give evidence by videolink, but only if the Court considers it appropriate after hearing what all the parties have to say about that issue.

There are generally charges for the use of videoconferencing, which are usually the responsibility of the requesting party. The Federal Court’s Videoconferencing Guide sets out information about the Court's videoconferencing equipment and facilities, the charges for its use and how it can be booked for the assistance of those wishing to use video conferencing in matters before the Court.

What should I expect from the respondent before going to Court?

The Federal Court Rules 2011 (the Rules) require the respondent to file certain documents. The documents required to be filed will depend on the type of matter. Common forms that the respondent may serve on you at your address for service may include:

  • a Notice of Address for Service (see Part 11 of the Rules)
  • a Defence which sets out the facts that support the respondent's view of the situation (see Part 16 of the Rules)
  • a respondent's genuine steps statement indicating whether the respondent agrees with the applicant's genuine steps statement (this is only required if you have filed and served a genuine steps statement)

The respondent may also serve a Cross-Claim which is a claim by the respondent against you.

What is the first case management hearing?

Matters before a Judge

The first case management hearing is usually the first time your matter will be heard by the Judge in Court. It will usually occur within five weeks of filing your matter.

It is integral to the case management of your matter. The aim of the hearing is to identify the issues in your matter at the earliest possible stage. Further information about case management in the Federal Court is explained in the Central Practice Note (CPN-1).

Matters before a Judicial Registrar

Some matters, such as bankruptcy matters and applications for winding-up of corporations are heard by Judicial Registrars of the Court in special lists. A case may be heard, determined and finalised at the first hearing.

What do I need to prepare before my first case management hearing?

The Court expects that prior to the first case management hearing parties will consider and discuss with the other parties the “case management imperatives”.

These are set out in the Central Practice Note (CPN-1), and some additional specific requirements may also be set out in the relevant NPA Practice Notes. The case management imperatives include:

  • identifying and narrowing the issues in dispute and making appropriate admissions in relation to the facts and matters which are not seriously in dispute
  • considering any alternative dispute resolution, including mediation
  • considering if any issues can be dealt with separately – such as preliminary issues of fact and law, or liability and quantum or penalty
  • considering if expert evidence is required
  • considering how best to put forward evidence – ie. by affidavit, statement, oral evidence or a combination
  • discussing how the eliminate or reduce the burden of discovery
  • agreeing on the time for trial and how it may be divided
  • capping the amount of costs to be recoverable

How long from starting my matter to trial?

Depending on the type and size of your matter, the Judge may give you a hearing date at the first case management hearing, if that is possible.

That date may be several months after your first case management hearing.

Otherwise, the Judge may wait until the case is prepared before giving it a hearing date.

The Court will endeavour, where possible, to set a date for hearing within six months of the first case management hearing, taking into consideration any legitimate interests of all parties to the litigation.