Preparing for the pre-trial review
After you file your defence, the court will send you a notice telling you the date and time you will need to attend the pre-trial review. Pre-trial reviews are dealt with remotely in the Small Claims Division unless the Court has granted leave for the parties to appear in person. To find out how you can prepare for the pre-trial review, follow the steps in the guide on this page.
Preparing for the pre-trial review - Step by step guide
Step 1: Read your documents
You should give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the pre-trial review by reading through your documents including those you have received from the plaintiff. These documents could include:
a letter of demand and your response
the statement of claim
any application to set aside a default judgment (if there was one).
Reading through these documents is important because the registrar or magistrate may ask you questions about them. Knowing the answers to these questions may help the registrar or magistrate make orders in your case and avoid unnecessary delays.
Step 2: Gather your evidence
You should think about what evidence you have to support your case. For example, any witness statements, documents, video footage or photos.
Preparing your evidence beforehand may help you decide if there are any missing documents that you think would help your case or if there are any witnesses that you would like to attend the hearing to give evidence.
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.
At the pre-trial review, you can ask the court for permission to issue a subpoena to produce. This is a court order to a person or organisation to bring documents to the court on a certain date. Subpoenas are rarely issued in the Small Claims Division.
A witness is someone who can say something about the facts in your case. In the Small Claims Division witnesses usually give their evidence in a written statement. Witnesses are rarely allowed to give evidence in person in Small Claims Division hearings.
You should think about how many statements you plan to have so that you can tell the registrar.
If you believe that it would be better for a witness to come to court to give evidence, you have to ask the court for permission to issue a subpoena to attend to give evidence when you go to the pre-trial review.
A subpoena to attend to give evidence is a court order requiring a person to 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.
Step 3: Consider settlement
At the pre-trial review, the magistrate or registrar will ask if you have attempted to settle the case, and if not, whether you and the plaintiff would be interested in trying to settle the case.
For these reasons, it is important that you:
consider getting legal advice about the strength of your defence
think about whether you are willing to settle the case, and what your 'bottom line' for settlement would be.
Step 4: Check your calendar
Check the date and time for the pre-trial review
The date for the pre-trial review will be on a letter you received from the court. If you can't find the letter, you can call the Local Court on 1300 679 272.
Small Claims Division matters are heard remotely unless an application has been made to, and granted by, the Court to allow an in-person appearance.
Check if there are any dates you can't attend the hearing
The registrar may ask you if there are any dates in the next few months that you won't be available to attend the hearing. Hearings in the Small Claims Division are heard remotely.
Step 5: Email the registry if you want to appear in person
If you want to appear in person, you will need to email the registry at least five days before the date of the pre-trial review. Your email should explain the reasons why you can’t attend remotely and seek leave to appear in person. It is up to the Local Court to decide whether to grant your application.
Step 6: Attend the pre-trial review
If you follow the steps above, you should be ready to attend the pre-trial review. For more information, see Going to the pre-trial review.