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Assessment hearing - Step by step guide 

If you applied for default judgment and your claim was for the payment of an amount of money equal to the value of the goods as well as or instead of the return of the goods, the court may:

  • make a decision based on your application (including the evidence contained in the affidavit that you filed) in chambers (without a hearing)
  • list your case for a hearing. This hearing may be called an 'assessment hearing'.
If the court decides your case in chambers, you will be notified (usually by post):

  • if default judgment was awarded
  • if it is default judgment for payment of money, how much.
If the court does not decide your case in chambers, you will be sent a notice (called a listing notice) telling you when and where you have to go to court for an assessment hearing. 

 Assessmen​​​t hearing​ - St​ep by step guide

If you have been told to atte​​nd an assessment hearing, you should get legal advice.

Step 1: Prepare ​for t​he asses​sment h​earing 

An assessment hearing is to determine what the value of the goods is. When preparing for the assessment hearing, you may need to prepare evidence that will show what the value of the goods you are claiming is. 

Affidavi​t e​vi​d​enc​e 

When you filed your application for default judgment, you should have included in your affidavit in support evidence about the value of the goods. If you believe there is more information that you could provide, you should prepare further affidavit evidence.

Depending on the type of goods and how they came into your possession, you could include information in an affidavit statement about:

  • the purchase price of the goods and when they were purchased (if they were purchased)
  • the costs to replace the goods, for example, the price of new or second hand goods of a similar type.
For some types of goods (for example if they are rare) you may be able to get an expert valuer give an affidavit about the value of the goods, and how they were valued. 

 Before getting an expert witness to write and sign and affidavit, you should get legal advice. There are special rules for using expert witnesses.   

Other docum​ents 

There are a variety of documents that you could provide to the magistrate or assessor to support your claim. For example, you could provide the court with:

  • receipts for the purchase of the goods
  • examples of the costs of similar goods (for example advertisements or quotes)
  • photographs of the goods
  • descriptions of the goods
You should attach these to your affidavits as 'annexures', and in your affidavit you need to refer to them.

For more information on how to write affidavits, see Reading and writing legal documents. ​

File your affidavits with​​ the co​urt

The court may make orders about filing affidavits and evidence, including when to file them, but if you are not sure you should file them as soon as possible or contact the court.  

Plan what you are g​​oin​g to say in court

You could use the following format:

  • state briefly the circumstances of your claim (for example, how the goods came to be in the defendant's possession) and how much you are claiming
  • mention the affidavits and other evidence that support your claim and the amount that you value the goods at.
Remember that before the hearing the assessor or magistrate will have read any documents you have filed so you don't need to repeat everything that is in your affidavit.​

Step 2: ​Go ​to c​ourt

Although you have been told to go to court at a certain time, for example 9:30am, this does not mean your case will be heard at that time. There are often many cases scheduled on the same day and you have to wait until your name is called. You can take a seat in the courtroom or if the courtroom is full you can wait outside. Make sure you do not leave the court building and are close enough to the courtroom to hear the court officer call your name. If you leave, or are not there when you are called, your case can be dealt with in your absence.

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. You can check with the court officer or the registry what time the courtroom will reopen.

It is possible that you could be at the court for a few hours, and sometimes for most of the day, so you should make arrangements with your work or childcare if necessary.

Make sure you arrive in plenty of time. If you are not in or near the courtroom when your case is called the hearing could go ahead without you. If you are running late, you should call the court registry to let them know.

When you get to the court, check the lists on the wall for the name of your case, the number in the list and which courtroom the hearing will be in. Your case may be the only case listed for hearing, or there may be others as well. The list should also have the name of the magistrate or assessor who will be hearing your case.

 You should aim to get to the court at least 30 minutes before your case is listed for hearing. This should allow you enough time to find the court list and your courtroom.

​ Don't forget to turn off your mobile phone before going into the courtroom.

​Step​ 3: The assessment hearing

The defendant will not usually attend an assessment hearing, particularly where default judgment has been awarded.


The magistrate or assessor may ask you to present your case. You should briefly:

  • outline your case for the amount you believe the goods are worth
  • point out evidence that supports your case
  • refer to your affidavits and other evidence.
You can speak from prepared notes. This can be helpful if you are nervous.

The magistrate or assessor may ask you some questions or ask you to explain some things in more detail. The magistrate or assessor may also ask you 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 not relevant to the case.

The magistrate or assessor will often give their decision straight after the hearing, or after a short break. The magistrate or assessor will give reasons for their decision. It is likely that the magistrate or assessor will include a costs order against the defendant, particularly if a lawyer is representing you at the assessment hearing.  

Once you know how much money for the value of the goods you can claim from the defendant, you can enforce the judgment. For more information, see Enforcing a judgment .