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LawAccess NSW > Representing Yourself

Preparing for the hearing - Step by step guide

There are six steps you need to take to prepare for a hearing at the Fair Work Commission (the Commission):

Icon: Page with numbered list  Preparing for the hearing - Step by step guide

Step 1: Read​​ the Notice of Listing and directions

Read the Notice of Listing. Make any arrangements you need to such as:

  • arranging time off work
  • arranging childcare.

If you cannot go to a hearing on the day(s) it is listed, you will need to ask the Commission to postpone (adjourn) your case. See Step 2 for information on how to do this.

Read the directions. Directions are orders made by the Commission about things that you must do to prepare for your case. For example, you will usually be directed to prepare an outline of submissions and witness statements and give them to the employer and the Commission before the hearing.

For more information, see Directions, How to write a witness statement and How to write an outline of submissions.

Step 2: As​k for an adjournment if you need one

If you have a good reason why you cannot go to the hearing on the day it is listed, you will need to apply to adjourn (postpone) the hearing.

Handy hint iconIt is a good idea to get agreement (consent) from the employer or their legal representative (if they have one) if you want an adjournment.

Put your application in writing. You should explain why you are unavailable on the hearing date. The Commission says you will need 'substantial grounds' to get an adjournment. This means that your reason should be serious. You should attach any evidence that supports your application. For example, a letter from your doctor or a hospital, or evidence of another event you couldn't change on that day, like jury service.

If your matter is adjourned, the Commission will send you another notice of listing telling you the new hearing date. Contact the Commission if you have asked for an adjournment but have not got a response.

Step 3: Gat​her your witness statements and evidence

You will need to gather the evidence that supports your case. Your evidence needs to answer the questions the Commission will ask about your case, including:

  1. Are you able to apply for unfair dismissal?
  2. Were you unfairly dismissed?
  3. If you were unfairly dismissed, what orders should be made?

Evidence from other people and yourself, should be written down in a witness statement.

For more information and help gathering evidence for your case, see Evidence.

Step 4: Prepare, file and serve your outline of submissions and witness statements​​

You need to prepare:

  • An outline of submissions
    This is a summary of the arguments in your case.
  • Witness statements for all your witnesses
    This is a written record of what a witness says about your case.

For more information on this, see How to write an outline of submissions and How to write a witness statement.

When you have finished writing these documents, you must file and serve them by the dates set in the Notice of Listing.

'File' means that you must give a copy to the Commission. You can file documents by:

  • attaching them to an email
  • sending a fax
  • sending it through the post.

The contact details for the Commission are on the Fair Work Commission website.

'Serving' documents means giving a copy to the other side. The contact details for the employer will be on the document called 'Form F3 Employer Response to Application for Unfair Dismissal remedy'. This should have been sent to you by the employer before the conciliation. If you do not have a copy you should contact the Commission. You can serve documents by:

  • attaching them to an email (if the employer gave an email address in Form F3)
  • sending a fax (if the employer gave a fax number in Form F3)
  • sending it through the post (to the address and person listed in Form F3).

If the employer has a representative like a solicitor, you must serve the documents on the solicitor.

Alert IconYou must file and serve your outline of submissions and witness statement by the deadline given to you in the directions. If you have not kept to the directions, you may not be allowed to use your witness statements at the hearing or the Commission may send you a notice telling you to attend a non-compliance hearing. For more information, see Directions.

Step 5: Plan what to take to the hearing​​

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

  • all your evidence. Take at least three copies of each of your documents as well as copies of the witness statements and outline of submissions that you have filed and served
  • your notes for speaking to the Commission member (see Step 4)
  • a notebook and pen to make notes during the hearing
  • highlighters and post it notes to mark important information
  • your witnesses
  • a list of the questions you would like to ask each witness.

Step 6: Plan what to s​​ay at the hearing

Write down the main points you want to say at the hearing. This may include:

  • background information about your employment (for example, part time, casual, full time, how long you were employed and your duties)
  • when you were dismissed and how
  • why your dismissal was unfair
  • what you want.

Now you have prepared for the hearing, the next step is to present your case on the day of the hearing. For more information, see Presenting your case at the hearing - Step by step guide.    

For answers to commonly asked questions, see Going to the Fair Work Commission - Frequently Asked Questions​.