You may have to attend court a number of times before the hearing of your case. The first time you go to court will be the mention.
What is a mention?
After the other party has filed an application for a noise abatement order, the court will send you a notice telling you the date and time you have to attend court. This is the mention date.
The mention date will be the first time you and the other party have to go to court.
Your neighbour will be referred to as the applicant and you will be the respondent.
What to take to the mention
You should take the following to the mention:
- a copy of the application notice
- a list of the evidence you plan to bring, for example the number of witnesses or witness statements
- any evidence of your attempts to resolve the matter informally, for example mediation and any correspondence with your neighbour where you have offered to negotiate about the noise
- a notepad and pen.
When you arrive at court
You should arrive at court at least 15 minutes early to give yourself enough time to go through security and find your courtroom.
If you are running late, it is important that you ring the court registry and let them know.
When you arrive at court you will need to find your courtroom by:
- looking for your name on a list on a noticeboard, or
- asking the court staff.
Some courts will have a registration desk where you can give them your name and let the court know you are there. In other courts, the court officer will approach you in the court room.
For information about how to find your courtroom, you should watch the video below.
Take a seat in the courtroom and wait for your case. There are often many cases listed on the same day.
The court officer or the magistrate may call out the name of your matter.
Mentions in the Local Court are can be dealt with by a magistrate or a registrar:
- refer to the magistrate as 'Your Honour', and a registrar as 'Registrar' then their surname
- always be polite to the magistrate or registrar, court staff and your neighbour
- refer to your neighbour or their lawyer as Mr/Ms and their surname
You are called the 'respondent' and your neighbour will be 'the applicant'.
The magistrate or registrar will close the courtroom for morning tea (usually around 11:30am) and lunch (usually around 1:00-2:00pm). You will have to leave the courtroom during these breaks. You can check what time the courtroom will reopen by asking the court officer or the registry.
It is possible that you could be at court for a few hours so you should make arrangements with your work or childcare if necessary.
Remember to turn off your mobile phone before entering the courtroom. You should also remove hats and sunglasses and be quiet in the courtroom when the magistrate or registrar is dealing with other cases.
What happens at the mention?
Once your name is called you and the other party should go and stand next to the bar table. This is the table at the front of the courtroom where the lawyers sit.
The magistrate or registrar will want to know how you want to respond to the application.
If you are not ready to respond to the application, for example you are still arranging legal advice or legal representation, you may ask for an 'adjournment.' An adjournment will postpone the mention to another date.
If you and the other party are able to settle the case, the magistrate or registrar may make orders to end the case in the same terms as your agreement. For example:
- if you agree with the application, the magistrate or registrar may make a noise abatement order, or
- if your neighbour agrees that you have stopped the noise, they might agree to withdraw the application.
The magistrate or registrar may ask if you have tried mediation and may adjourn your case while you try mediation.
If you disagree with the application, the magistrate or registrar may make orders to prepare the case for a hearing. The court may make orders that:
- the other party file (give to the court) and serve (give to you) their witness statement, the statements of other witnesses and any other evidence they have by a certain date
- you file and serve your witness statements, the statements of any other witnesses and any other evidence by a certain date
- both parties return to court for a further mention date.
For more information, see Preparing for the hearing.
What if you miss the mention?
If you are unable to go to a mention date, you should ask for an adjournment beforehand. You can do this by writing to the court giving your reasons for why you need an adjournment. You should check with the court to see if your case is adjourned.
If you do not go to the mention, the court may:
- adjourn the case to another day, or
- make the orders the applicant is asking for.
If orders are made when you are not there, you should get legal advice.