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LawAccess NSW > Representing Yourself

Going to the hearing

There are 5 steps you need to consider if you are representing yourself in the Local Court for a noise abatement order.

Going to the hearing – Step by step guide

Step 1: Finding your courtroom

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

The court will usually put up a list of all the cases being heard that day. You should look for your name on the list and it will tell you the courtroom you need to go to.

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 .

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

Step 2: What to do and say in the courtroom

Take a seat in the courtroom and wait for your case. The court officer may come to you and ask for the name of your matter.

When it is your turn, the court officer or the magistrate may call out the name of your matter.

Hearings in the Local Court are heard by a magistrate:

  • refer to the magistrate as 'Your Honour'
  • stand and bow each time the magistrate enters and leaves the courtroom
  • always be polite to the magistrate, court staff and your neighbour
  • refer to your neighbour or their lawyer as Mr/Ms and their surname.

The other party is called the 'applicant' and you will be 'the respondent'.      

Once your case is ready to be heard, you should 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. Only put items on the table that you need. Do not leave your bags on the bar table.

For information about where to sit and what the courtroom may look like, see Who's who in court.

Step 3: Adjournments

Sometimes you or the other party may need to postpone the hearing to another date. This is called an 'adjournment'. The magistrate may not agree to this unless there is a very good reason. You should provide any evidence you have to support your request for an adjournment.

If you are given an adjournment, the magistrate may make an order that you pay for any costs because of the delay.

Step 4: The hearing

The other party will need to prove on the 'balance of probabilities' (that it is more likely than not) that the noise is 'offensive' and it is likely to occur again.

You should focus on the evidence that supports your case why a noise abatement order should not be made.

For more information about the evidence you should prepare, see Preparing for the hearing.

The other party will usually be asked to present their evidence first. Usually they will be asked to give evidence from the witness box. After the other party has given their evidence, you will be given the chance to ask them some questions. This is called 'cross-examination'.

The other party may then ask their witnesses (if they have any) to present their evidence. They will also be asked to give their evidence from the witness box. You will be given a chance to cross-examine them if you want to.  

After the other party has presented all their evidence, you will be asked to present yours. The other party or their lawyer may then cross-examine you.

You may then call any of your witnesses to give evidence. The other party will be given the opportunity to cross-examine them too. 

After you and the other party have presented the evidence, the magistrate may ask both of you to present your submissions. Your submissions should:

  • outline why a noise abatement order should not be issued
  • summarise the evidence that supports your case and any weaknesses in the other party's case
  • outline any cases or legislation you rely on.

Step 5: The decision

The magistrate may make a decision on the day of the hearing.

Sometimes the magistrate may take a short break to think about the case before making a decision, or the magistrate may give the decision on a later date.                     

If the magistrate decides in your favour, a noise abatement order will not be issued. You can ask the magistrate for an order that the other party pay your costs of the hearing.

If you lose the case, the magistrate will make a noise abatement order.

If you are not happy with the decision, you can appeal. You must appeal within 21 days of the decision to the NSW Land and Environment Court.

For more information about appeals, costs and what can happen if you do not follow a noise abatement order, see After the hearing.