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LawAccess NSW > Representing Yourself - LawAssist

Presenting your case at a NCAT hearing - Step by step guide   

The following steps will help you present your case at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). ​

Step-by-step guide icon   Presenting your case at a NCAT hearing - Step by step guide

Step 1: Before t​​​he hearing

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) will send you a Notice of Conciliation and Hearing telling you the place and time of your hearing.

You should make sure that you arrive at the hearing at the correct time. It is a good idea to arrive at least 15 minutes early. This will give you time to: 

  • go through security
  • find the room where your case will be heard
  • take a seat.  

Make sure you do not leave the venue and are close enough to hear your name called.

If you are not there when your name is called, your case may be heard without you. If you are running late for the hearing, it is important that you ring the NCAT registry and let them know.

Hint icon   Do not forget to turn off your mobile phone before the hearing starts.

Step 2: What to do​​ and say in the hearing

You should refer to the tribunal member by their name (eg Mr or Ms Surname). You should always be polite to the tribunal member, other staff and your neighbour. Refer to your neighbour or their lawyer as Mr/Ms and their surname.

In a case before NCAT, the person applying for a Fencing Order is called 'the applicant'. The other party is called 'the respondent'. For information about where to sit and what the courtroom may look like, see Who's who in court.

There will usually be other matters listed at the same time as yours. This is called a group list. You may have to wait until the tribunal member finishes dealing with another case before they can deal with your case.

Step 3: Conciliat​ion

Before the hearing begins, the tribunal member will ask you to talk to your neighbour to see if you can come to an agreement. This is called conciliation.

If you and your neighbour come to an agreement before the hearing starts or during the hearing, you should tell the tribunal member. The tribunal member can make orders in the same terms as your agreement. If you or your neighbour do not comply with orders, they can be enforced. For more information on enforcing orders, see After the decision.

If you cannot come to an agreement, you will have a hearing which may occur on the day or at a later date.

Step 4: Adjournm​ents

Sometimes you or your neighbour may need to ask the tribunal member to postpone the hearing to another date. This is called an 'adjournment'. The tribunal member may not agree to this unless there is a good reason. You should provide any evidence you have to support your request for an adjournment (for example, a medical certificate).

Step 5: The hear​ing

The hearing is your chance to convince the tribunal member that the Fencing Orders you want should be made. Remember that the tribunal member is only interested in the evidence that supports your case and this is what you should focus on.

The applicant will be asked to give evidence first. The tribunal member may ask them some questions about:

  • who owns the property
  • when the Fencing Notice was served
  • how the Fencing Notice was served
  • when they made an application for a Fencing Order 
  • what orders they want 
  • what discussions have been had or agreements made (if any) with the neighbour 
  • whether they have any documents or photos they would like the tribunal member to see.

After the applicant has given their evidence, the tribunal member will ask the respondent whether they want to ask the applicant any questions. This is called 'cross-examination'.

The respondent will then get the opportu​nity to give their evidence. The tribunal member may ask the respondent some questions about: 

  • who owns the property
  • whether they received a Fencing Notice
  • whether they have had any discussions, or made an agreement, with their neighbour 
  • what they want to say about the applicant's evidence
  • why they do not agree with the orders the applicant is asking for
  • whether they have any documents or photos they would like the tribunal member to see.

After the respondent has given their evidence, the tribunal member will ask the applicant whether they want to ask the respondent any questions.

Step 6: The deci​sion

The tribunal member will usually make a decision on the day of the hearing. Sometimes the tribunal member will take a short break to think about your case before making a decision. In more complicated cases, the tribunal member may make reserve their decision. That means they may not tell you their decision on the day of the hearing, but ask you to come back on another day.

The tribunal member will usually tell you their decision verbally and give you a brief outline of the reasons for their decision and the orders that will be made.

If the tribunal member decides that the existing fence is a sufficient dividing fence, no orders will be made.

If the tribunal member decides that the existing fence is not a sufficient dividing fence or there is no existing fence, then orders may be made about what fencing work should be done and how ​the costs should be shared. This could include orders about repairs to the fence that must be made, or orders for a new fence to be built.

You may get a printed copy of the orders on the day of the hearing, you may receive a copy via email or you will be posted a written copy of the orders.

Hint icon  You can ask NCAT to give you a written statement of reasons for the decision. You can ask for this within 28 days after you are notified of the NCAT decision. The written statement of reasons should explain NCAT's decisions on the facts, the law and how the tribunal member came to the decision. If you ask NCAT for a written statement of reasons for a decision it will extend your time for making an appeal to the appeals panel.

Alert Icon  If you have any questions about the decision you should get legal advice. ​