Preparing for the hearing
There are nine steps you need to take to prepare for a hearing at the Local Court.
Preparing for the hearing – Step by step guide
Step 1: Confirm your court date, time and location
You should make sure you write down your hearing date and time. You should also check the address of the court. You can find this on the Local Court website.
Step 2: Ask for an adjournment if you need one
If you won't be able to attend court on the hearing date, you should ask for an adjournment. An adjournment will postpone the hearing to another date.
You should call the court well before your hearing date and ask them if you can get an adjournment.
The court may ask you to complete an Application to Vacate a Hearing Date form. You can get copies of the form from:
They may ask you to send a letter or fax to the court confirming:
- that you would like an adjournment
- the reason why you cannot attend court on the hearing date
- any upcoming dates you won't be available.
You should call the court to confirm they have received your request and placed it on your court file. Call the court the day after your original hearing date to confirm whether your case was adjourned and the date it was adjourned to.
Step 3: Gather your evidence
The other party must prove on the 'balance of probabilities' (that it is more likely than not) that the noise is 'offensive' and is likely to occur again. However, this does not mean you should not gather your own evidence.
You should prepare evidence to show that the noise is not offensive and/or it is unlikely to occur again.
For more information about offensive noise, see Noise abatement orders.
Your evidence may include:
- your witness statement
- other witness statements
- experts reports
Your witness statement
Your witness statement covers the things you can say, for example:
- why you think the noise is not offensive, and/or
- why the noise is unlikely to occur again.
You should gather other supporting evidence which you can refer to and attach to your witness statement. For example, if you retained a noise expert to measure the noise, you could refer to their findings in your statement and attach any reports as annexures to your statement.
For more information about how to write a witness statement, see Statements in the 'Legal skills' section of this website.
Other witness statements
You may ask your neighbours to prepare witness statements if these will support your case.
Statements from your neighbours explaining that they can't hear the noise or they don't find the noise offensive may strengthen your case. You should make sure that anyone who provides a witness statement is willing to come to court to give evidence.
Step 4: File and serve your evidence
If the magistrate made orders that you exchange evidence with the other side, you will need to follow the orders set by the magistrate or registrar at the mention.
You may have to file and/or serve the evidence on the other side by a set date.
'File' means that you must give a copy to the court. You can do this by:
- going to the court registry in person
- sending the documents by post or fax
- attaching the documents to an email (if the registrar or magistrate agrees).
'Serving' means giving a copy to the other party. You can serve your evidence by:
- giving the documents in person
- sending the documents by post, fax or email.
If the other party has a lawyer representing them, you will need to serve the evidence on their lawyer.
You should keep the originals of all your evidence and give copies to the court and other party.
Step 5: Read the other party's evidence
If the magistrate has made orders that you must exchange evidence with the other side, you will get to see the other party's evidence before the hearing.
You should take some time to read the other party's evidence so that you understand their case.
If it seems that the other party has not followed orders to exchange evidence, you should contact the court and find out if anything has been filed. If witness statements have been filed, ask the court for a copy or contact the other party and ask for a copy. If nothing has been filed you can let the registrar or magistrate know when you attend court. The registrar or magistrate may adjourn the hearing or disregard some of the other party's evidence.
Step 6: Consider settlement
It is sensible to think about whether there is a way you could settle the dispute. Think about the evidence the other party has presented.
If you have not got legal advice before, try to get legal advice about your case.
If you are able to settle the case, you should tell the court as soon as possible. Arrange for your agreement to be put into writing. If you want the court to make orders to confirm your agreement you should draft written terms of settlement.
For more information on how to do this, see Settlements.
Step 7: Arrange subpoenas
If you want someone to attend court to give evidence you should contact them and ask if they will come to court or if they can give you the documents you need.
If you are concerned they may not attend, that they won't give you the documents you need, or if you want to get hold of documents that someone else has, you may issue them with a subpoena (pronounced 'supeena'). There are three sorts of subpoenas:
- Subpoena to produce - a court order to give documents to the court.
- Subpoena to attend to give evidence - a court order that requires a person to give evidence at a hearing.
- Subpoena to give evidence and produce - a court order that requires a person to give evidence at a hearing and to give documents to the court.
If you want to arrange a subpoena, you should get legal advice.
For more information, see Subpoenas.
Step 8: Plan what to take to the hearing
You should take the following things with you to the hearing:
- the application notice
- all your evidence, including the originals and at least three copies of each of your documents as well as copies of the witness statements that you have filed and served
- copies of the other party's witness statements and evidence
- a list of questions you would like to ask any witnesses
- your submissions
- a notebook and pen to make notes
- highlighters and post-it notes to mark important information.
Step 9: Plan what to say at the hearing
Before you go to court for the hearing, it is helpful to write down what you plan to say to the registrar or magistrate. These are called your submissions. Your submissions should include a summary of:
- the reasons why you think a noise abatement order should not be made
- the evidence you have to support your case
- any weaknesses in the other party's case
- any laws or cases you rely on.
After preparing your case, the next step is to go to court and present your case at the hearing.
For more information, see Going to the hearing.