Preparing for the hearing
There are nine steps you need to take to prepare for a hearing at the Local Court.
You should make sure you write down your hearing date and time. You should also check the address of the court. You can find this on the Local Court website.
If you won't be able to attend court on the hearing date, you should ask for an adjournment. An adjournment will postpone the hearing to another date.
You should call the court well before your hearing date and ask them if you can get an adjournment.
The court may ask you to complete an Application to Vacate a Hearing Date form. You can get copies of the form from:
They may ask you to send a letter or fax to the court confirming:
You should call the court to confirm they have received your request and placed it on your court file. Call the court the day after your original hearing date to confirm whether your case was adjourned and the date it was adjourned to.
You need to gather evidence that supports your case. This may include:
Your evidence should show that on the 'balance of probabilities' (that it is more likely than not) that the noise the other party is making is 'offensive' and is likely to occur again.
For more information about offensive noise, see Noise abatement orders.
Your witness statement covers the things you want to say.
You may cover things like:
You should gather other supporting evidence which you can refer to and attach to your witness statement. For example, you could keep a record of every time the noise occurs and how long the noise lasts. You can then refer to these records in your witness statement.
For more information about how to write a witness statement, see Statements in the 'Legal skills' section of this website.
You should ask anyone else who is affected by the noise to also provide a witness statement, for example, your neighbours.
Statements from your neighbours explaining how the noise affects them will strengthen your case. You should make sure that anyone who provides a witness statement is willing to come to court to give evidence.
If you made a previous complaint to the police or the local council, you should get copies of any complaint records. The police or council may have also measured the noise using a sound level meter. You can use these measurements as evidence in your case.
If you don't have any formal measurements of the noise, you can consider finding a noise expert and ask them to prepare a formal report about the noise levels.
Before retaining an expert, you should get legal advice.
If the magistrate made orders that you exchange evidence with the other side, you will need to follow the orders set by the magistrate or registrar at the mention.
You may have to file and/or serve the evidence on the other side by a set date.
'File' means that you must give a copy to the court. You can do this by:
'Serve' means giving a copy to the other party. You can serve your evidence by:
If the other party has a lawyer representing them, you will need to serve the evidence on their lawyer.
You should keep the originals of all your evidence and give copies to the court and the other side.
If the magistrate has made orders that you exchange evidence with the other side, you will get to see the other party's evidence before the hearing.
You should take some time to read the other party's evidence so that you understand their case.
If it seems that the other party has not followed orders to exchange evidence, 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 other party and ask for a copy. If nothing has been filed you can let the registrar or magistrate know when you attend court. The registrar or assessor may adjourn the hearing or disregard some of the other party's evidence.
It is sensible to think about whether there is a way you could settle the dispute. Think about the evidence that the other party has presented.
If you have not received legal advice before, try to get legal advice about your case.
If you are able to settle the case, you should tell the court as soon as possible. Arrange for your agreement to be put into writing. If you want the court to make orders to confirm your agreement you should draft written terms of settlement.
For more information on how to do this, see Settlements.
If you want someone to attend court to give evidence you should contact them and ask if they will come to court or if they can give you the documents you need.
If you are concerned they may not attend, that they won't give you the documents you need, or if you want to get hold of documents that someone else has, you may issue them with a subpoena (pronounced 'supeena'). There are three sorts of subpoenas:
If you want to arrange a subpoena, you should get legal advice.
For more information, see Subpoenas.
You should take the following things with you to the hearing:
Before you go to court for the hearing, it is helpful to write down what you plan to say to the registrar or magistrate. These are called your submissions. Your submissions should include a summary of:
You may also want to prepare any questions you want to ask your witnesses and the other party's witnesses.
After preparing your case, the next step is to go to court and present your case at the hearing.
For more information, see Going to the hearing.