You must go to the hearing. If you don't go to the hearing, your claim or Defence could be dismissed.
If you cannot attend the hearing, you can contact the other party and ask if they will agree to change the hearing date and what dates they are available. If they agree, you can send a letter or fax to the court explaining:
b. that the other party has agreed to change the hearing datec. dates that you and the other party are available for a hearing.
The court will consider your letter and let you know the new hearing date.
If the other party will not agree to change the hearing date, you can still write to the court and ask the court to change the hearing date. It is important to attach supporting information to your letter, such as a letter from your doctor or employer to explain why you cannot attend the hearing. The assessor or magistrate will only consider your letter on the day of the hearing. There is a risk that the hearing will go ahead without you.
It is important that you write to the court at least 21 days before the hearing date. If it is less than 21 days before the hearing date you should contact the court as soon as possible.
If you are running late for the hearing it is important that you ring the court registry and let them know. Otherwise, you risk your claim or defence being dismissed and a costs order being 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 advised that they are running late the court may hear the other matters first and delay the start of the hearing.
If the defendant does not turn up and has not contacted the court, you can ask for judgment to be entered in your favour in the absence of the defendant. The court will decide whether it is willing to strike out the Defence and enter default judgment in your favour. The court may adjourn (postpone) the hearing to a later date rather than give judgment in your favour.
In the Small Claims Division, witnesses do not usually attend the hearing. The assessor will look at the written statements from witnesses. Your witnesses should only come to the hearing if the registrar gave permission for this at the Pre Trial Review. For more information, see
Pre Trial Review - Step by step guide.
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 are expected to be neat and tidy. For more information, see
What to do, say and wear in court.
The court will normally order that the party who loses the case pays the costs of the party who wins the case.
Costs orders in the Small Claims Division include court filing and service fees, other expenses for the case such as fees for searches, and a limited amount for legal representation (professional costs) as set out in the table below (as at July 2016):
If the other party wins but they did not have a lawyer, you will not be ordered to pay professional costs. In the Small Claims Division, the court generally cannot make a costs order for things such as travel expenses or loss of wages related to attending court.
You can ask for a costs order in your favour to recover the money you have spent on filing and service fees. If you did not have a lawyer, you will not be awarded an amount for professional costs. In the Small Claims Division, the court generally cannot make a costs order to cover things such as your travel expenses or loss of wages related to attending court.