​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

If the debt is a mortgage, loan or credit card you should get legal advice. You may have other options.

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

Step 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 s​tatement

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.

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 car accident or of the goods the plaintiff is trying to recover)
  • police motor vehicle accident reports
  • quotes for repair or replacement of damaged items
  • contracts or agreements
  • letters and emails
  • order forms, invoices and receipts
  • bank statements
  • diary or calendar entries
  • timesheets and pay slips.

Other witness sta​tements

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 plaintiff and the court no less than 14 days before the hearing date. You should keep the originals of all your evidence, and send copies to the court and the other side. You should bring all the original documents to the hearing, as well as a few copies of each.

For more information, see

For further information, see Managing your case ​and Reading and writing legal documents.

Car icon  If you are defending 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  in the 'Car accidents' section of this website

Step 2: Sen​d your witness statements and evidence to the plaintiff and the court

You should send all of the witness statements and evidence to the plaintiff and file them with the court or send them 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 plaintiff and the court so that they arrive at least 14 days before the hearing date, unless the court ordered a different time.

Hint icon   You can also lodge the statements with the court registry in person on or before the day they are due.

You will find the plaintiff's address for service under the heading 'Further Details about Plaintiffs'. 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 plaintiff

You should receive witness statements and evidence from the plaintiff no less than 14 days before the hearing date, unless the court ordered a different time. When you receive the plaintiff's witness statements, you should read them carefully so that you understand the plaintiff's case.

If you do not receive anything, 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 plaintiff's evidence.

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

To win the case, you need to show that the plaintiff does not have enough evidence to prove that you owe the plaintiff money, that you have to pay damages, or that any goods need to be returned or money paid equal to their value. 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 reasons why you don't believe you owe the money being claimed or should have to return any goods
  • mention the statements, documents and evidence that support your claim
  • explain which sections of the plaintiff's Statement of Claim form, witness statements and evidence that you 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 w​hat to take to court

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

  • the Statement of Claim form and your 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​.