You need to go to the Pre Trial Review. If you do not go to the Pre Trial Review and do not contact the court to explain why you are not going to be at court, your claim could be dismissed (if you are the plaintiff) or your Defence 'struck out' (if you are the defendant).
If you know ahead of time that you cannot get to court for the Pre Trial Review, you should contact the court as soon as possible and ask to attend the Pre Trial Review by telephone.
If you cannot attend in person or by telephone (for example, if you know you will be overseas or in hospital on that date), you should write to the court as soon as possible and ask for the Pre Trial review to be postponed to another date. It will help if you are able to attach evidence of your travel plans (such as a copy of your ticket) or medical treatment (such as a letter from your doctor). You should send a copy of this letter to the other party in the case or their lawyer.
If you are sick or there is an emergency that stops you going to the Pre Trial Review, you should try and send a fax to the court before 9.30am telling the court why you cannot attend the Pre Trial Review and asking for it to be postponed to another date. If it is not possible to send a fax, you should contact the court by telephone before 9.30am. You may be ordered to pay the costs of the other party for their time wasted in coming to court that day. If you don't contact the court you risk your claim being dismissed or your Defence being struck out, and a costs order being made against you.
If you are running late for the Pre Trial Review it is important that you ring the court registry and let them know. Otherwise, you risk your claim being dismissed or your Defence being struck out. A costs order could also be made against you if you are not in the courtroom when your case is dealt with.
It depends on whether the defendant has contacted the court. If the defendant has contacted the court and requested that the Pre Trial Review be adjourned (postponed) to another date, the registrar may agree to this.
If the defendant has not contacted the court, you have two options:
The registrar is unlikely to strike out the Defence the first time that a defendant fails to come to the Pre Trial Review.
At mediation there is an independent person, called the mediator, who helps the parties try and settle their dispute through discussion and negotiation. The mediation is confidential and all discussions are 'without prejudice'. This means that anything said during the mediation cannot be used against a party if the case goes to a court hearing later.
The registrar can make orders, called consent orders, based on the agreement reached by the parties. For more information, see
Settling the case.
You will probably be at the court for about an hour. However, it could be a shorter or longer time depending on how many other cases are on the court list that day.
You do not have to dress very formally, but you will be expected to be neat and tidy.
You can explain to the registrar that one of your witnesses does not want to write a statement. You could ask the registrar to order that the witness must attend the hearing to give evidence in person, and get permission for a subpoena to be issued directing the witness to come and give evidence.
However, it is rare for witnesses to give evidence in person at Small Claims Division hearings, and you would have to persuade the registrar that the evidence was very important for your case.
For more information, see
Subpoenas - Step by step guide.
After speaking to you and the defendant about the case, the registrar may direct you to file an amended Statement of Claim. Your claim may need to be amended because you have not named the defendant properly or your Statement of Claim does not clearly set out the legal basis for your claim.
You should make a note of the reasons why the registrar has directed you to file an amended Statement of Claim. You may need to get some
legal advice about what changes you need to make.
The court rules say that an amended Statement of Claim must:
The registrar will tell you when to file the amended Statement of Claim, usually within 14 days of the Pre Trial Review. If you are not sure, you should contact the court registry and ask them to tell you what the registrar ordered.
For an example of an amended Statement of Claim, see
Sample Amended Statement of Claim.
If your claim is about a car accident and you need to amend your Statement of Claim, see
Sample Amended Statement of Claim - car accidents.