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LawAccess NSW > Representing Yourself

​The mention

You may have to attend court a number of times before your case is heard in full. The first time you go to court will be the mention.

    What is a mention?

    After you file your application notice, the court will give you a court date. This is the mention date. It is usually a few weeks after you file your application. The mention will be the first time you and your neighbour have to go to court.   

    The mention is where the court makes orders to prepare your case for a hearing. It may also be a chance to discuss settlement of your case.

    HintAfter you file your application, you will be referred to as the applicant and your neighbour will be the respondent.

    What to take to the mention

    You should take the following to the mention:

    • a copy of your application notice
    • a list of the evidence you plan to bring to the hearing, for example the number of witnesses or witness statements
    • any evidence of your attempts to resolve the matter informally, for example mediation or complaints in writing
    • a notepad and pen.

    When you arrive at court

    You should arrive at court at least 15 minutes early to give yourself enough time to go through security and find your courtroom.

    AlertIf you are running late, it is important that you ring the court registry and let them know.

    When you arrive at court you will need to find your courtroom by:

    • looking for your name on a list on a noticeboard
    • asking the court staff.

    Some courts will have a registration desk where you can give them your name and let the court know you are there. In other courts, the court officer will approach you in the court room.

    For information about how to find your courtroom, you should watch the video below.

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

    Take a seat in the courtroom and wait for your case. There are often many cases listed on the same day. The court officer or the magistrate may call out the name of your matter.

    Mentions in the Local Court are dealt with by a magistrate or a registrar. You should:

    • refer to the magistrate as 'Your Honour', and a registrar as 'Registrar', followed by their surname
    • always be polite to the magistrate, registrar, court staff and your neighbour
    • refer to your neighbour or their lawyer as Mr/Ms and their surname.

    You are called the 'applicant' and your neighbour will be 'the respondent'.

    The magistrate or registrar will close the courtroom for morning tea (usually around 11:30am) and lunch (usually around 1:00-2:00pm). You will have to leave the courtroom during these breaks. You can check what time the courtroom will reopen by asking the court officer or the registry.

    It is possible that you could be at court for a few hours so you should make arrangements with your work or childcare if necessary.

    HintRemember to turn off your mobile phone before going into the courtroom. You should also remove hats and sunglasses and be quiet in the courtroom when the magistrate or registrar is dealing with other cases.  

    What happens at the mention?

    Once your name is called, you and the other party should go and stand next to the bar table. This is the table at the front of the courtroom where the lawyers sit.

    The magistrate or registrar will want to know the other party's response to your application. If the other party is not there the magistrate or registrar may adjourn (postpone) the mention to another date or they may set a hearing date.

    If you and the other party are able to settle the case, the magistrate or registrar may make orders to end the case in the same terms as your agreement. For example:

    • if the other party agrees with your application, the magistrate or registrar may make a noise abatement order, or
    • if you agree that the other party has now stopped the noise, you might agree to withdraw the application.

    The magistrate or registrar may ask if you have tried mediation and may adjourn your case while you try mediation.

    If the other party disagrees with your application, the magistrate or registrar may make orders to prepare the case for a hearing. The court may make orders that:

    • you file (give to the court) and serve (give to the other side) your witness statement, the statements of other witnesses and any other evidence you have by a certain date
    • the other party file and serve their witness statements, the statements of any other witnesses and any other evidence by a certain date
    • both parties return to court for a further mention date.

    For more information, see Preparing for the hearing.

    What if you miss the mention?

    If you are unable to go to a mention date, you should ask for an adjournment as soon as possible. You can do this by writing to the court giving your reasons for why you need an adjournment. You should check with the court to see if your case is adjourned.

    If you do not go to the mention and it is your application, the court may:

    • dismiss your application
    • make an order that you pay any legal costs of the respondent.

    If your case has been dismissed you should get legal advice.