​ሕግንና ደንብን በተመለከተ እርዳታ ማግኘት ይፈልጋሉን? - Amharic | هل تحتاج لمساعدة قانونية؟ - Arabic | ܤܢܝܼܩܵܐ ܝ݇ܘ̤ܬ ܠܗܲܝܵܪܬܵܐ ܩܵܢܘܿܢܵܝܬܵܐ؟ - Assyrian | Need Legal Help? - Auslan | Treba li vam pravna pomoc? - Bosnian | Burmese â Need Legal Help? | 需要法律帮助吗? - Chinese Simplified | 需要法律幫助嗎? - Chinese Traditional | Trebate li pravnu pomoć? - Croatian | ضرورت به کمک قانونی دارید؟ - Dari | Wïc Kuɔɔny në Wɛ̈t Löŋ? - Dinka | آیا به کمک حقوقی نیاز دارید؟ - Farsi | Gadreva na Veivuke Vakalawa? - Fijian | Kailangan ninyo ba ng tulong na panglegal? - Filipino | Besoin d’aide juridique ? - French | Χρειάζεστε βοήθεια σε νομικά ζητήματα - Greek | क्या आपको कानूनी सलाह चाहिए? - Hindi | Butuhkan Bantuan dalam Masalah Hukum? - Indonesian | Hai bisogno di assistenza legale? - Italian | ត្រូវការជំនួយលើបញ្ហាផ្លូវច្បាប់ឬទេ? - Khmer | 법적인 도움이 필요하십니까? - Korean | Ви треба ли помош со правни работи? - Macedonian | कानूनी सहयोग चाहिएको छ? - Nepalese | Necessita de ajuda com questões jurídicas? - Portuguese | Вам нужна юридическая помощь? - Russian | E Manaomia Fesoasoani i Mea Tau Tulafono? - Samoan | а ли вам треба помоћ у правним питањима? - Serbian | Ma u baahan tahay Caawimmad xagga sharciga ah?- Somali | ¿Necesita ayuda con cuestiones jurídicas? - Spanish | சட்ட உதவி தேவையா? - Tamil | ท่านต้องการความช่วยเหลือทางด้านกฎหมายไหม? - Thai | Fiema’u ha tokoni Fakalao? - Tongan | Yasal Danışmaya İhtiyacınız mı var? - Turkish | Cần Được Giúp Đỡ Về Luật Pháp? - Vietnamese |

Going to the hearing

To find out how to p​resent y​​our case at a hearing, follow the steps in the guide on t​his ​page. If you want to learn more about how to prepare for the hearing​, see Preparing for the hearing.​

Icon: Page with numbered listGoing to the hearing - Step by step guide​​​​​​​ 

Step 1: On the day of the hearing

You should make sure you get to court at least 30 minutes early so that you have enough time to find your courtroom.

If you are running late, you should call the court registry to let them know. The court may dismiss your defence if you are not in the court room at the time the case is listed.

When you arrive you should: 

  • ​look for the court list, which will be stuck on the wall or a noticeboard in the waiting area (if it is a large court there may be lists for many different kinds of cases - look for the 'Civil List') 
  • make a note of the number of your case in the list and check which court room your case is in
  • ask a court officer or go to the court registry if you can't find your name on a court list
  • go and sit in the chairs at the back of the courtroom if the court room is open
  • sit near the courtroom door and wait for the courtroom to be opened (if it is closed). 

Be prepared to wait some time as other cases may be dealt with before your case.

If you wait outside the courtroom make sure you are close enough to the courtroom to hear if your case is called. 

The magistrate or assessor may adjourn (close) the courtroom for morning tea, usually around 11:30am, or for lunch, usually from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. You will have to leave the court room during these breaks.

Handy hintRemember to turn off your mobile phone before going into the court room.

For information on how to find your courtroom, watch the video below. 

​You can also read a transcript Word icon(48kb) of this video.

This video is available with the audio description​.​

Step 2: What to do and say in the court room

Hearings in the Small Claims Division are held before a magistrate (called 'Your Honour') or an assessor (called 'Sir', 'Madam' or 'Assessor'). You should stand when a magistrate or assessor comes into or leaves the courtroom.

When you go in, sit at the back of the court and wait for your name to be called. Once it is your turn, sit at the bar table at the front of the courtroom. Get out your papers and arrange them so you can find things when you need them during the hearing. 

The hearing is your chance to persuade the magistrate or assessor that your version of events is true. Remember that the magistrate or assessor is interested in the evidence that supports your case, not in your opinions or feelings about the case or the plaintiff.

To win the case, the plaintiff needs to prove that it is more likely than not that you owe them the money, were the driver at-fault in the car accident, or have their goods. You need to show that there is not enough proof to show this. This standard of proof is called 'the balance of probabilities'.  

Always be polite to the magistrate or assessor, other court staff and the plaintiff. Refer to the plaintiff or their lawyer as Mr/Ms and their surname. 

For more information, see What to do, say and wear in court in the Legal Skills section of Representing Yourself.​

Step 3: Adjournments 

Sometimes you or the plaintiff may ask the court to postpone the hearing to another date. This is called an adjournment.

The magistrate or assessor may not agree to this unless there is a good reason. There may be an adjournment if either you or the plaintiff served the witness statements and evidence late. 

If the magistrate or assessor does agree to an adjournment, they may make a costs order against the party at fault. For example, costs may be ordered against the party who served their evidence late. 

For more information on how to ask for an adjournment, watch the video below. 

​​You can also read a transcript​Word icon (46kb) of this video.

This video is available with the audio description​.

Step 4: The hearing 

Possible settlement 

The first thing the magistrate or assessor may do is ask if there is any chance of the case being settled. If either or both of you answer yes, the magistrate or assessor may give you time to go outside the courtroom and discuss settling the case.

For more information, see Settling your case​.

Checking documents 

The magistrate or assessor will go through the witness statements and other evidence that has been sent to the court and check that: 

  • ​the plaintiff received all the documents from you
  • you received all the documents from the plaintiff
  • the court has all the documents that both you and the plaintiff have.

If any evidence was served late, there will be discussion about whether that evidence can be used during the hearing. The magistrate or assessor may decide that the evidence cannot be used. If this happens with your evidence, you could ask for an adjournment, but unless you have a good excuse for serving your evidence late, you are unlikely to get one. 

Presenting your case 

Hearings in the Small Claims Division are generally informal. The magistrate or assessor will ask the plaintiff to speak first. When the plaintiff has finished speaking, they will ask you to speak. 

When asked to present your case, you should briefly: 

  • outline your case
  • point out evidence that supports your case
  • refer to your witness statements and other evidence
  • point out any sections of the plaintiff's evidence that you disagree with or where there are inconsistencies. 

You can speak from prepared notes. This can be helpful if you are nervous.

The magistrate or assessor may ask you to explain some things in more detail or to move on to another point if they feel you have said enough about a certain issue or that you are speaking about something that is irrelevant.

If you want to make submissions on the law applying to your case, you should do this after you have talked about your evidence. If you have copies of cases you can hand them up and give a copy to the plaintiff.

It is important that you do not interrupt the plaintiff when it is their turn to speak. Instead, you can make some notes of anything you want to comment on or clarify. At the end of the hearing, you will be asked whether there is anything else you want to say. 

Witnesses 

In the Small Claims Division witnesses usually give evidence in a written statement.

If you were given leave (permission) at the pre-trial review for your witness to give evidence in person, you should ask your witness to wait outside the courtroom. 

When it is time for your witness to give evidence, a court officer will bring your witness into the courtroom and take them to the witness box. You should ask the witness to tell the court their name, address and occupation. You will then be able to ask them questions about their witness statement. 

After you have finished asking the witness questions, the plaintiff will have a chance to question the witness. This is called cross-examination. After the cross-examination, you will be asked if you want to ask the witness any further questions. When your witness has finished giving evidence they have to leave the courtroom. 

If there are witnesses, the plaintiff's witnesses will go first, followed by your witnesses. 

Once the magistrate or assessor has seen all the evidence, heard from any witnesses and listened to submissions, they will usually make a decision. For more information, see The decision

For more information on what to expect at the hearing, watch the video below. 

​You can also read a transcript Word iconof this video.

This video is available with the aud​io description.​

​Further information

​​​​​​Search NSW Court​ Lists App​

​An app is available for court users with both Android and iOS devices. Search courts lists, up to two weeks in advance and one week in the past. Find individual court sittings by searching by case number or party name. Links are available from the NSW Online Registry​.​