The first time that you go to court is called the 'mention'.
The Local Court will not usually decide a fencing matter at the mention. Instead, the court will look at what your case is about and decide whether it is ready to be listed for a hearing.
Before the mention
You should make sure that you arrive at the court at the correct time. It is a good idea to arrive at least 15 minutes early. This will give you time to:
- go through security
- look at the court list to find out which court room you need to go to. In some courts you will be asked to line up to see a court officer and tell them you are present
- take a seat in the courtroom
- tell the court officer in the court room your name and that you are present.
Don't forget to turn off your mobile phone before going into the courtroom.
You should refer to the magistrate as 'Your honour'. You should stand and bow when the magistrate enters or leaves the courtroom. For more information, see
Who's who in court.
At the mention
The magistrate will ask you and your neighbour some questions about your matter, including whether you and your neighbour have tried to come to an agreement or attended mediation. If you have not been to mediation, the magistrate may adjourn (postpone) the case so that you and your neighbour can attend mediation.
You should be prepared to explain in a few sentences what your matter is about. If the case is ready to be listed for hearing, you should be prepared to tell the magistrate:
- how many witnesses you want to bring to the hearing (you may want to call your spouse or someone else who has personal knowledge of the state of the fence or a fencing expert who can comment on the fence and location of the fence)
- whether you want to subpoena any documents. (If you think that your neighbour will not show up at the hearing, or they will argue they are not the owner of the property, you could subpoena the local council to get a copy of the latest rates statement that has been issued to the owner of the adjoining property. This will show their name and address).
The magistrate will then give you a date for the hearing of your case. The magistrate may also give you directions about the date that your evidence needs to be served on (given to) your neighbour.
If you, or any of your witnesses, need an interpreter, you should tell the court as soon as possible so that one can be arranged for the hearing. The court will pay for the interpreter.
The next step is to prepare your case for the hearing. For more information, see: