The hearing process
At the hearing, both parties can tell the member about the case and their witnesses. The applicant/appellant usually goes first.
The member might ask the parties to confirm:
- which documents they have filed
- which documents they are relying on to prove their case
- the issues to be decided by the court.
Presenting your case
If you’re giving evidence yourself, you need to enter the witness box. Take with you any papers or material you wish to refer to. The member will guide you through giving your ‘evidence-in-chief’.
After you complete your ‘evidence-in-chief’, the other party can direct questions to you (cross-examination). Usually, the other party will have given you a copy of the documents they intend to produce as evidence. The member usually invites you to comment on these documents.
After you complete your evidence, return to the bar table. Advise the court if you intend to call further witnesses. The witness is invited to enter the witness box.
Ask the witness to state their name, occupation and address.
Give the witness a copy of their statement or affidavit you filed before the hearing. Ask the witness to confirm it is their statement and if the information is true and correct.
The witness might want to correct something in the statement or provide more information. The member guides you through the process.
Ask the witness your questions. When you complete your questioning, the other party and the member may ask the witness questions.
After cross-examination, you can question your witness again to clarify any points.
Evidence from the other party
After you present all the evidence you wish to rely on, the other party can give evidence and call witnesses. You can cross-examine any of their witnesses.
Final address and decision
After the evidence, the member asks for closing submissions. Each party summarises the evidence and asks the member to decide in their favour. The respondent usually gives closing submissions first.
Sometimes the member asks the parties to file and serve written submissions after the hearing. This isn’t an opportunity to submit new evidence; you must summarise the evidence and why your case should be preferred over the other party’s case.
The member makes a decision based on the law and evidence. Usually the decision is reserved, meaning the member hands down a judgment with written reasons at a later time. The parties are notified when the court is ready to hand down its decision.
Exhibits tendered during the hearing are returned once any appeal period expires.
Usually each party pays their own legal costs, though the court can order costs where appropriate. When the judgment is handed down, consider whether to seek an order for costs.