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The following steps will help you prepare for the hearing of your case at the Local Court.
You will need to gather the evidence that you are going to take with you to the hearing.
The person from the Local Court who will look at the evidence and decide the case is called the 'magistrate.' The magistrate will need to decide a number of issues, such as:
Your evidence should address the questions that apply to your case.
If a Fencing Notice has not been served by you or your neighbour, or it is less than one month since the Fencing Notice was served, the Local Court cannot hear the case (unless you have not been able to find your neighbour or your case relates to urgent fencing work).
If you made the application to the Local Court, you will need to show that a Fencing Notice was served. You could do this by providing:
If you were not able to serve a Fencing Notice because you could not find your neighbour, you will need to provide evidence of:
If you made the application and you think your neighbour may not show up to the hearing or that they may argue they are not the owner of the property, you will need to provide evidence to show that you have served a Fencing Notice on the right person. To get this evidence you could:
For more information on subpoenas see
Subpoenas - Step by step guide.
For more information on how to find the owner of a property if they do not live next door, see
Finding your neighbour.
If you want a new fence, you will need to show the magistrate that the existing fence is not sufficient. If you do not want a new fence, you will need to show the magistrate that the existing fence is sufficient.
Evidence about whether the existing dividing fence is sufficient or insufficient could include:
You or your neighbour need to show what sort of fence should be built. You should also bring evidence of how much the work will cost.
You could bring along:
Make sure you take quotes for building or repairing the fence with you to the hearing. If you do not take quotes, the case may be adjourned (postponed) and you may have to come back to finish the hearing on another date.
A dividing fence will usually go on the common boundary line between two neighbouring properties. If a fence cannot be built on the boundary line because of the nature of the land, it will usually be built as close as possible to the boundary. If you and your neighbour disagree on where the fence should be built, relevant evidence could be:
You and your neighbour will need to tell the magistrate how you think the costs of any fencing work should be split. Relevant evidence could be:
For more information about who should pay for fencing work, see
Who should pay?
If the application to the Local Court relates to urgent fencing work, relevant evidence might include:
Make sure you take quotes for building or repairing the fence. If you do not take quotes the case may be adjourned and you will have to go back to court again.
If the magistrate gave you directions at the mention about when your evidence should be served on (given to) your neighbour, you should follow these. If you bring evidence to a hearing that you have not given to your neighbour according to directions made by the court, your neighbour may object to this evidence being used by the court, and in some cases you may not be able to rely on this evidence.
You will need to take these things with you to the hearing:
If you want to make sure a witness comes to the hearing to give evidence, you can serve them with a Subpoena to Give Evidence. For more information on subpoenas see
Subpoenas - Step by step guide.
Write down the main points you want to say to the magistrate. This may include:
Now you have prepared for the hearing, the next step is to present your case on the day of the hearing. For more information, see
Presenting your case at the Local Court hearing - Step by step guide.
For answers to commonly asked questions, see Frequently Asked Questions.