When preparing for the hearing you may need to prepare your statement and get statements from any witnesses.
The most important witness statement is your own witness statement. You need to tell the story about the case in a clear and logical way. Your statement should include names of people, places and dates relevant to your side of the story. It should include all relevant things you saw, heard, did and said.
Witness statements should not include opinions or beliefs or arguments about the law. For example, you should not write "the defendant signed the contract, so they must have understood its conditions". You could write instead, "I saw the defendant sign the contract".
You also need to gather other supporting evidence, which you can refer to and attach to your witness statement. Your supporting evidence could include:
You should ask any other person who saw or heard something that supports your claim to prepare and sign a separate witness statement too. Examples of who could make a witness statement include people who:
In some cases, there will not be any other witnesses and you will only have your own witness statement.
You need to allow plenty of time to have your witness statements written, signed, copied and ready to send to the other party and filed with the court no less than 14 days before the hearing date or within the time the court orders you to do this. You should keep the originals of all your evidence, and give copies to the court and the other side. You should bring all the original documents to the hearing, as well as copies.
For more information, see:
For further information, see
Managing your case.
If you have a claim in the Small Claims Division of the Local Court as a result of a car accident and you need to prepare your witness statement, you can use the notes and diary entries you made after the accident to help you. For more information, see:
If you got statements from any witnesses after the accident, you might wish to use these at the hearing if they support your case. If you didn't get any statements at the time of the accident, and you think you need them, see
You should send all of the witness statements and evidence to the other party and to the court with a letter that includes the name of the case and the case number (you can find this information on the front of the stamped Statement of Claim). You need to send your witness statements to the other party and the court so that they arrive at least 14 days before the hearing date, unless the court has ordered a different time.
You can lodge the statements with the court registry in person on or before the day they are due.
You will find the defendant's address for service on the Defence form under the heading 'Further Details about the Filing Party'. The postal address for the court is found under the heading 'Registry Address' on the Statement of Claim (unless the case has been transferred to a different court).
Don't forget to keep the originals of your evidence and send copies to the other party and the court, and to make a note of the date that you posted or delivered them.
You should receive witness statements and evidence from the other party no less than 14 days before the hearing date, unless the court has ordered a different time.
When you receive the other party's witness statements, you should read them carefully so that you understand the other party's case.
If you do not receive anything 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 advise the magistrate or assessor the next time you attend court. The magistrate or assessor may adjourn the hearing or disregard some of the other party's evidence.
For you to win the case you need to prove that the defendant owes the money claimed, or that you have a right to the goods being claimed. For more information, see
Write down the main points you want to say to the assessor or magistrate. You could use the following format:
Remember that before the hearing the assessor or magistrate will have read the witness statements and evidence provided by both parties so you don't need to repeat everything that is in your statement.
You could practice speaking to the assessor or magistrate with one of your friends or relatives. You could also go to a Local Court and see some Small Claims Division hearings. If you telephone the court, you can find out the dates and times that hearings are held. Courts are open to the public and you can sit in the public area at the back of any court and watch.
You can watch a video about what will happen at court to help you plan what to say.
You can also read a
transcript of this video (43 kb).
This video is available with the audio description.
You will need to take these things with you to the hearing:
For more information on preparing for a hearing, see
Preparing for the hearing - Frequently Asked Questions.
For information about the hearing, see
Presenting your case at the hearing - Step by step guide.