Preparing to go to Court
Last Updated 1 April 2023
Last Updated 1 April 2023
A directions or case management hearing is a short hearing where the judge decides the next procedural steps to deal with the case and makes orders for those steps to happen. The kinds of orders that can be made include: setting dates for mediation, for the parties to lodge their evidence, for any further directions hearings, or for the final hearing.
You should come prepared to tell the court what you think the next steps should be and why. Take a pen and some paper with you so you can write down what the court decides you need to do and when. Any orders made by the court are published on the webpage Federal Law Search.
Interlocutory hearings deal with specific issues that need to be determined before the final hearing. For example, an interlocutory hearing may be scheduled if a party lodges an application for:
interim relief (such as an injunction – an urgent order to stop someone doing something);
procedural matters (such as ordering a party to give the other party documents); and
security for costs (if the court thinks that you may not be able to pay the other party’s costs if you lose the case, the court may order that you deposit money with the court or provide security, such as a bank guarantee).
Mediation is a type of dispute resolution which can be cheaper and quicker than going to a final court hearing. An impartial, specially-trained mediator (not a judge) helps the parties discuss their issues and work out a solution. It is less formal and more flexible than a court hearing.
Mediations are confidential and the discussion cannot be raised later on in court. You can access our Mediation Fact Sheet here.
At the final hearing, both parties present their case. This typically involves both sides questioning witnesses and then making submissions. The judge may ask you questions about your case. You can access our Tips for the Day of Hearing in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit and Family Court resource here.
Note – What if I can’t attend a court date?
It is very important to attend all court dates, including directions hearings. If you have a good reason for not attending (for example, serious illness), phone the court and let them know. Make sure you get a doctor’s certificate or other documentation to explain why you could not attend.
This resource was last updated on 1 April 2023. This is legal information only and does not constitute legal advice. You should always contact a lawyer for advice specific to your situation. Please view our disclaimer for more information.