​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 |

Pre Trial Review - Step by step guide

Step-by-step guide icon  Pre Trial Review - Step by step guide

Step 1: Prepare f​or the Pre Trial Review

When preparing for a Pre Trial Review where you are being chased for a debt, or the return of goods, or where someone says you owe them money as a result of a car accident, you should:

  • read through your court documents including those you have received from the other party
  • think about what evidence you have to support your case, including witnesses who could provide a written statement
  • consider getting legal advice about the strength of your case
  • think about whether you are willing to settle the case, and what your 'bottom line' for settlement would be
  • think about whether there are any dates in the next few months that you could not attend a hearing
  • check the date and time of the Pre Trial Review on the letter you received from the court.

Alert Icon  If you can't get to court for the Pre Trial Review, you may be able to attend by telephone. For more information, see Pre Trial Review - Frequently Asked Questions.

Hint icon  To make sure you have everything you need for court, see Checklist - Things to bring to a pre trial review.

Witnesses

Judgments in Small Claims cases are based on written evidence such as statements, documents and photos. If you believe that it would be better for a witness to come to court to give evidence at the hearing, you have to ask the court for leave (permission) to issue a subpoena when you go to the Pre Trial Review.

A subpoena (pronounced supeena) is an order from the court to a person (or organisation) to bring documents to court or attend court to give evidence on a certain date. You will need to explain to the court why you think the witness needs to give evidence in person. For more information, see Subpoenas - Step by step guide.

Alert Icon   Witnesses are rarely allowed to give evidence in person in Small Claims Division hearings.

If one of your witnesses doesn't want to write a statement, you could try and deal with this at the Pre Trial Review. For more information, see Pre Trial Review - Frequently Asked Questions.

Documents

Sometimes another person or organisation has documents or evidence that you need to support your case. For example, you might want a statement from a bank to show a cheque was deposited or you may want a log book from the owners of a work car to show who was driving at the time of the accident.

At the Pre Trial Review, you can ask the court for leave (the court's permission) to issue a subpoena. For more information, see Subpoenas - Step by step guide.

If you want to attend the hearing by telephone rather than in person, you should ask for permission to do this at the Pre Trial Review. Permission will usually only be granted if the person asking lives a long way from the court.

Step 2: Go to t​he court

Although you hav​​​e 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.

When you arrive at court you should look for the court list, which will be stuck on the wall or a noticeboard in the waiting area. If it is a large court there may be lists for many different kinds of cases - look for the list headed 'Civil List'. Make a note of the number of your case in the list and check which courtroom your case is in. If you can't find your case on the list, ask a court officer or go to the court registry and show them your letter about the Pre Trial Review.

If the courtroom is open you can go in and sit in the gallery (the chairs at the back of the court). Otherwise, you should sit near the courtroom door and wait for the courtroom to be opened.

Alert Icon  Remember to turn off your mobile phone before going into the courtroom.

Hint icon  You should try and get to the court about 30 minutes before your case is listed for Pre Trial Review so you have enough time to check the court list and to find the right court room.

Alert Icon  If you are running late for the Pre Trial Review, it is important that you ring the court registry and let them know. It is very important to be on time. The court may dismiss a claim or strike out a Defence if you are not in court at the time the case is listed.

Step 3: The​ Pre Trial Review

One aim of the Pre Trial Review is to attempt to settle the dispute. If the case does not settle, a second aim of the Pre Trial Review is to make sure that you are prepared for the hearing of the case and to set a date for the hearing. Usually a judicial officer called a registrar hears Pre Trial Reviews but in some courts a magistrate or assessor may be dealing with the Pre Trial Review.

Hint icon  When talking to the judicial officer you call the registrar 'Registrar'. Magistrates are called 'Your Honour' and assessors can be called 'Sir', 'Madam' or 'Assessor'.

It is likely that there will be other Pre Trial Reviews listed at the same time as yours, if you are at a larger court.

In some courts barristers and solicitors have their cases dealt with before people who do not have a lawyer. In other courts cases will be dealt with according to their number in the list. You should sit in the seats at the back of the court and wait until the registrar or court officer calls the number and name of your case. When your case is called you should go and sit at the table at the front of the courtroom. This table is called the bar table.

Settlement discussions

When your matter is called, the registrar will ask if you have already had discussions with the other party to try to settle the case.

The registrar may also ask some questions about the case and may suggest that you and the other party (or their lawyer) go outside the courtroom to talk about settling the case.

The registrar may also refer you to a Community Justice Centre for mediation. At the Downing Centre Local Court there is a Community Justice Centre mediator who may be able to run a mediation session on the day of your Pre Trial Review.

For more information on mediation, see Mediation.

If you are going to a Community Justice Centre for mediation, the Pre Trial Review may be adjourned (postponed) for a few weeks.

If you are able to settle the case, either at the Pre Trial Review or at a mediation session or through private discussions, the court can make orders based on your settlement agreement.

For more information, see Settling the case.

Preparation ​for the hearing

If your case does not settle, the registrar will make orders to prepare for a hearing. These are Case Management Orders.

If you want a witness to attend the hearing in person rather than provide a written statement, you should ask the registrar to approve this. If you want a subpoena to be issued you should also ask the registrar for permission to do this.

For more information, see Step 1 above and also see Subpoenas - Step by step guide.

The registrar may then:

  • ask what the issues are
  • ask which witness statements and documents each party will use at the hearing
  • set a date for the hearing (this could be between one and four months ahead)
  • tell you to send copies of all witness statements and other evidence that you will be relying on at the hearing to the other party and to the court at least 14 days before the hearing date.

You will both have to write this information on a Pre Trial Review Sheet (it can be on the same one, but write out the information on a separate one for your own records) and give it to the registrar. Blank Pre Trial Review sheets may be on the bar table (the bar table is the table at the front of the court room where lawyers and parties sit while their case is being dealt with). The registrar may fill out the Pre Trial Review Sheet if no party has a lawyer.

Hint icon  You should write down on a separate piece of paper the information written on the Pre Trial Review Sheet and keep it for your own records.

For more information see

Car icon  If the claim is about a car accident, see

Alert Icon   It is very important that you make a note of the hearing date and that you follow the orders made by the registrar. If you do not send copies of witness statements and evidence to the other party at least 14 days before the hearing date, you risk the assessor or magistrate not considering your evidence at the hearing. The hearing might also be postponed and you may be ordered to pay the other party's costs.

For more information, see Preparing for the hearing - Step by step guide.

For further information, Checklist: Important dates for the defendant.

You can watch a video about what happens at the pre-trial review below.

 

You can also read a transcript of this video Microsoft Word Icon(45 kb).

​​This video is available with the audio description.​

Amending your Statement of Claim or Defence

After speaking to you about the case, the registrar may direct either of you to file 'amended' documents. The plaintiff may be told to file an amended Statement of Claim or the defendant may be told to file an amended Defence.

Hint icon  An amended document is a new version of the document with changes made to it.

Common changes include:

  • correcting an error
  • clarifying, adding or removing grounds (reasons) for the claim or Defence
  • correcting the name of a party
  • adding or removing parties.

An amended document needs to be renamed and should be dated, for example 'Amended Statement of Claim - amended on 17 February 2010'. If the document is amended because of an order by the court it needs to state this, for example, 'Amended Statement of Claim - amended pursuant to Order of 17 February 2010'.

Amendments should be noted by striking through the wrong information. Any changes or new additions should be underlined and/or in bold text.

The amended document needs to be filed with the court, and a stamped copies served on any the other party. It is important to file the amended document by the date ordered by the registrar.

If the plaintiff serves you with an amended Statement of Claim, and you have already filed a Defence, you may want to file an Amended Defence in response. You have 14 days from the date you were served with the Amended Statement of Claim to file an amended Defence.

For more information, see

Car icon  If your Statement of Claim or Defence relates to a car accident and you need to make changes to the documents, see

For more information about Pre Trial Reviews, see Pre Trial Review - Frequently Asked Questions.