A directions hearing is a short court appearance where a registrar or a judge will make practical decisions about the next steps of the dispute. It will usually occur within two weeks after a call over.

The aim of the court is to always facilitate the management of a dispute in a way that is just, quick and cheap. This means that the court must take into account certain factors when making a decision, including:

  • ensuring that the process for determining the outcome is fair; 
  • that the dispute is finalised as quickly as is possible to ensure that the costs are affordable; and
  • that the use of judicial and administrative resources is efficient. 

What is a Directions Hearing? 

The purpose is so the court and the disputing parties can address any procedural matters before going to a trial. The registrar or judge will make decisions with the aim of reducing the cost and time of the proceedings. 

For example, some of the decisions or orders that can be made include:

  • creating a timetable for parties to file and serve additional pleadings;
  • creating a timetable for exchanging evidence with the other side;
  • allowing more time to finalise expert evidence; and
  • allowing the use of telephone and video conferencing facilities for witnesses who cannot be physically present.

These orders can be made by the court’s choice or upon request from one of the parties. 

What Will My LegalVision Team Be Doing?  

Your LegalVision team will be liaising with the solicitor for the other side to agree on a suitable timetable. Your team will also be preparing and filing consent orders if required. If you and the other party can both agree on timetables and other administrative decisions, you may not need to attend a directions hearing.

Usually, this is more desirable, so your LegalVision team will be working towards this outcome. If you cannot obtain a consensus, however, they will attend the directions hearing on your behalf and report to you with the outcome. If you and the other party cannot agree to consent orders, each solicitor will prepare proposed orders that reflect what you want. They will then prepare an argument to put forward to the court on why their proposed orders should be made, instead of the orders your opponent proposes.

What Do I Need To Do?

If you are at this stage of the proceedings, there are a few things that your LegalVision team may need you to do, including:

  1. updating us – make sure that you discuss any orders or decisions that you would like us to ensure are made throughout the directions hearing; and
  2. being available during the directions hearing – although you are not required to attend court for a directions hearing, it is very helpful to ensure that you are still available to liaise with us during that time. 

This article is part of a larger publication on the NSW Local Court Process. To read about the next step in the NSW Local Court process, click here.

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