Managing your case
Some court cases involve a lot of documents. Most court cases will run more smoothly if you are well organised.
Gather your evidence
It is important that you gather as much evidence as you need to support your side of the story. Once you have all your evidence, keep all your documents together. You will need them to prepare for a hearing, and may need them for settlement discussions or mediation.
Evidence can include:
- invoices or receipts
- diary, calendar or appointment books
- letters, emails, notes or faxes
- contracts or quotes
For more information, see
Prepare a chronology
A chronology is a timeline of events. A chronology should have the dates of relevant actions or events, a short description of what happened on each date and any documents you have relating to that date.
Case study -Bob and Jacqui
Bob put an ad in the local paper, looking for handyman work. Jacqui saw the ad and asked Bob to come over to her place. Jacqui and Bob walked around the house and looked at the work Jacqui wanted Bob to do. Jacqui agreed to pay Bob's hourly rate and to pay for the cost of any materials. Bob finished the work in 5 days and sent Jacqui a bill. Bob waited for 30 days but Jacqui didn't pay him. Bob called Jacqui a couple of times but she still didn't pay him. Bob decided to prepare a chronology of events before writing a letter of demand.
Sample: Bob's chronology of events
Keep copies of everything
Letters can go missing in the post and sometimes things can be misplaced. It is important that you keep copies of all letters and documents you send by post and fax transmission sheets for any faxes you send.
Make sure you store the originals in a safe place where you will not lose them.
Keep a record of important dates
When your case starts it is important to keep track of important dates in your case, such as when you:
- received a court document
- gave or sent a court document to the other party
- filed a document in court
- attended court
- had a telephone conversation with the other party or their lawyer
- had a telephone conversation with the court registry or the police
- sent a letter, fax or email to the other party or their lawyer
- received a letter, fax or email from the other party or their lawyer
- made or received any offers of settlement from the other party or their lawyer
- have to attend court.
It is also very important that you make a record of anything the court tells you to do and the date by which you have to do it.
Having a neat record of all important dates in your case can help with settlement discussions and prepare you for any questions the magistrate may ask you in the courtroom.
Organise your documents in a file
Lawyers going to court usually have a file with them containing all the documents about the case. The documents should be arranged in chronological order (from oldest to most recent). You may find it useful to do the same thing. Your document file can include:
- sealed (stamped) copies of all the documents you have filed in the case
- copies of any documents given or sent to you by the other party or the court
- copies of any letters, faxes, or emails from the court or the other party about the court case
- fax transmission reports that show when a fax was sent
- copies of any documents you have not filed but intend to use or refer to in court, for example, your evidence, and extra copies for the registrar or magistrate and the other party.
Tabbing important documents in your court file with post it notes will allow you to find them easily when in the courtroom.
Notify others of your change of address
If you move or change your address, you need to let the court and the other party know.
In civil cases, you need to file a change of address for service form at court and give a copy to the other party. In criminal cases, you can let the court or prosecutor know about a change of address by contacting the court registry or officer in charge.