​ሕግንና ደንብን በተመለከተ እርዳታ ማግኘት ይፈልጋሉን? - Amharic | هل تحتاج لمساعدة قانونية؟ - Arabic | ܤܢܝܼܩܵܐ ܝ݇ܘ̤ܬ ܠܗܲܝܵܪܬܵܐ ܩܵܢܘܿܢܵܝܬܵܐ؟ - Assyrian | Need Legal Help? - Auslan | Treba li vam pravna pomoc? - Bosnian | Burmese â Need Legal Help? | 需要法律帮助吗? - Chinese Simplified | 需要法律幫助嗎? - Chinese Traditional | Trebate li pravnu pomoć? - Croatian | ضرورت به کمک قانونی دارید؟ - Dari | Wïc Kuɔɔny në Wɛ̈t Löŋ? - Dinka | آیا به کمک حقوقی نیاز دارید؟ - Farsi | Gadreva na Veivuke Vakalawa? - Fijian | Kailangan ninyo ba ng tulong na panglegal? - Filipino | Besoin d’aide juridique ? - French | Χρειάζεστε βοήθεια σε νομικά ζητήματα - Greek | क्या आपको कानूनी सलाह चाहिए? - Hindi | Butuhkan Bantuan dalam Masalah Hukum? - Indonesian | Hai bisogno di assistenza legale? - Italian | ត្រូវការជំនួយលើបញ្ហាផ្លូវច្បាប់ឬទេ? - Khmer | 법적인 도움이 필요하십니까? - Korean | Ви треба ли помош со правни работи? - Macedonian | कानूनी सहयोग चाहिएको छ? - Nepalese | Necessita de ajuda com questões jurídicas? - Portuguese | Вам нужна юридическая помощь? - Russian | E Manaomia Fesoasoani i Mea Tau Tulafono? - Samoan | а ли вам треба помоћ у правним питањима? - Serbian | Ma u baahan tahay Caawimmad xagga sharciga ah?- Somali | ¿Necesita ayuda con cuestiones jurídicas? - Spanish | சட்ட உதவி தேவையா? - Tamil | ท่านต้องการความช่วยเหลือทางด้านกฎหมายไหม? - Thai | Fiema’u ha tokoni Fakalao? - Tongan | Yasal Danışmaya İhtiyacınız mı var? - Turkish | Cần Được Giúp Đỡ Về Luật Pháp? - Vietnamese |

Preparing for the hearing - Step by step guide ​

Step-by-step guide icon Preparing for the hearing - Step by step guide

St​ep 1: Prepare your witness statements and other evidence

When preparing for the hearing you may need to prepare your statement and get statements from any witnesses.

Your state​​​ment

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:

  • diagrams, drawings or photographs (for example, the scene of a car accident)
  • police motor vehicle accident reports
  • quotes for repair or replacement of damaged items
  • photographs of goods you are claiming the return of 
  • contracts or agreements
  • letters and emails
  • order forms, invoices and receipts
  • bank statements
  • diary or calendar entries
  • timesheets and pay slips.

Other witn​​ess statement​s

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:

  • saw an accident happen
  • were present when a loan was discussed or made
  • saw what damage was done
  • were present when goods were ordered or delivered
  • can give expert evidence about something (for example, a panel beater could make a statement about the quality or cost of car repairs or a dentist could make a statement about the quality or cost of dental treatment).

In some cases, there will not be any other witnesses and you will only have your own witness statement.

Alert Icon  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.

Car icon  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:

Car icon  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 Gathering evidence.

Step 2: Send y​our witness statements and evi​​dence to the other party and the court

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).

Alert Icon  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.

Step 3: Receive witness statements and evidence from​ the other party

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.

Step 4: Plan wh​at you are going to say in court

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 Gathering evidence.

Write down the main points you want to say to the assessor or magistrate.  You could use the following format:

  • state briefly the circumstances of your case and how much you are claiming, or what goods you are claiming
  • mention the statements, documents and evidence that support your claim
  • explain which sections of the defendant's Defence form, witness statements and evidence that you dispute or disagree with, and why.

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.

Hint icon  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 Microsoft Word Icon(43 kb).

​This video is available with the audio description​

Step 5: Plan​​ what to take to court

You will need to take these things with you to the hearing:

  • your Statement of Claim form and the Defence form (and Cross Claim or Third Party form, if relevant)
  • copies of your witness statements and evidence
  • copies of the other party's witness statements and evidence
  • your notes for speaking to the assessor or magistrate
  • a notebook and pen to make notes during 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.