​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 |

Preparing for the hearing

It is important that you are well prepare​d before you go to the hearing. If you need help ​preparin​g for the hearing of your case, follow the steps in the gui​de on this page. ​

Icon: Page with numbered listPreparing for the hearing - Step by step guide​​​​ 

​Step 1: Gather your evidence

When preparing for the hearing you may need to prepare your own statement and get statements from any witnesses. 

  • ​​Your statement
  • Other witness statements

Your statement

The most important witness statement is your own.

You need to tell the story about the case in a clear and logical way. Your statement should include the names of people, places and dates relevant to your side of the story. It should include all relevant things you saw, heard, did and said.

Witness statements should not include opinions or arguments about the law. 

You also need to gather other supporting evidence, which you can refer to and attach to your witness statement. Your supporting evidence could include: 

  • ​​diagrams or photographs in colour
  • quotes for repair or replacement of damaged goods
  • contracts or agreements
  • letters, emails and text messages
  • order forms, invoices and receipts
  • bank statements
  • diary or calendar entries
  • timesheets and pay slips.

Other witness statements

You should ask any other person who saw or heard something that supports your claim to prepare and sign a separate witness statement. 

Examples of who could make a witness statement include people who: 

  • ​were present when a loan was discussed or made
  • were present when goods or services were delivered
  • can give expert evidence about something (for example, an antique valuer can give a statement about a vintage clock)
  • saw the car accident.

In some cases, there will not be any other witnesses and you will only have your own witness statement. 

You need to allow plenty of time to have your witness statements written, signed, copied and sent to the plaintiff and filed with the court at least 14 days before the hearing date (unless the court has ordered a different time).

Instructions: ​Instructions for preparing witness statements

Samples:

Step 2: Send your evidence to the plaintiff and the court

The court will usually order that your statements and evidence need to be filed with the court, and exchanged with the defendant, at least 14 days before the hearing. 

You can file the documents with the court:

  • ​​​in person, or
  • by post to the court where the case will be heard. 

You can exchange the documents with the plaintiff:

  • ​​​in person
  • by post to the address for service in the statement of claim under the heading 'Further Details about the Filing Party'
  • by fax or email if a fax number or email address was included in their statement of claim.

If you are sending documents by post, make sure the documents will be received on or before the date they are due.   

Step 3: Review evidence received from the plaintiff 

You should receive witness statements and evidence from the plaintiff at least 14 days before the hearing date unless the court ordered a different time. 

When you receive the plaintiff's witness statements, you should read them carefully so that you understand the plaintiff's case. 

If you do not receive anything, you should contact the court and find out if anything has been filed. If witness statements have been filed, ask the court for a copy, or contact the plaintiff and ask for a copy.

If nothing has been filed, you can tell the magistrate or assessor the next time you attend court. The magistrate or assessor may adjourn (postpone) the hearing or disregard some of the plaintiff's evidence if the plaintiff tries to file it late. 

Step 4: File and serve subpoenas (if relevant)

A subpoena is a court order to a person or organisation to bring documents to the court on a certain date, or to attend the hearing to give evidence. You cannot file a subpoena unless the court has given you permission. This is usually done at the pre-trial review.

If you have permission to file and serve a subpoena, you will need to do this at least five days before the date specified in the subpoena. For more information, see Subpoenas.

Step 5: Plan what to say in court 

To win the case, you need to show that the plaintiff does not have enough evidence to prove their claim. 

Write down the main points you want to say to the assessor or magistrate. You could use the following format: 

  • ​state briefly the reasons why you do not believe you owe the money or the goods
  • mention the statements, documents and evidence that support your case
  • explain which sections of the plaintiff's statement of claim, witness statements and evidence that you disagree with, and why
  • mention any court cases or legislation that you think support your case.

Remember that the assessor or magistrate will have read all the witness statements and evidence so you do not need to repeat everything that is in your statement. 

Handy hintYou could practice speaking to the assessor or magistrate with one of your friends or relatives. You could also go to a local court and see some Small Claims Division hearings.

Step 6: Plan what to take to court 

You will need to take these things with you to the hearing: 

  • the statement of claim and your defence form as well as any cross-claim or defence to the cross-claim, if relevant
  • ​copies of your witness statements and evidence
  • copies of the plaintiff's witness statements and evidence
  • your notes for speaking to the assessor or magistrate
  • a notebook and pen to make notes during the hearing. 

AlertBring the original documents as well as the copies to the hearing.

For information about the hearing, see Going to the hearing.

For more information on how to prepare for the hearing, you can watch the video below. 

Y​ou can also read a transcript of this video Word format (55kb)​.

This video is available with the audio description.​