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As our world becomes more interconnected, finding yourself in a legal dispute with someone in a different city or state is increasingly common. As a result, the court in which your proceedings are located may be inconveniently far away from you. Therefore, understanding how to move your case to a different location is important. This article will explain how to change the location of a case, and the key considerations to keep in mind.

Moving a Court Case Within Your State

If someone brings proceedings against you, you will receive a statement of claim. When you receive this, you do not need to go to court straight away. You will have the opportunity first to file a defence to the claim.

When you file your defence, you will also have the opportunity to ask the court to transfer the hearing to a different location. You can do this by filling out a notice of motion and an affidavit. You will need to convince the court that there is a more appropriate forum to hear the dispute. This includes explaining:

  • where you and the witnesses currently live;
  • where you lived when the dispute happened (i.e. where the work was done, where the contract was made);
  • why it is difficult for you to deal with the matter at the current court (including any special needs or disadvantages that you have; and
  • if there will be any specific prejudice to you if the matter was heard at the original location.

The court will then send all of these documents to the person who filed the claim. They will have two weeks to respond. The court will then consider both claims and decide whether it is fair and reasonable to move the case to a different location.

Moving a Case to a Different Location in Australia

It is also possible to move court proceedings from one state or territory to another. Each state (or territory) Supreme Court is able to transfer to another state (or territory) Supreme Court. This means that to transfer a matter lodged in a lower court (e.g. the Local Court in NSW or Magistrate’s Court in Victoria), you will first need to move it to your state’s Supreme Court.

When the Supreme Court decides whether it is appropriate to transfer to a different state, it will consider a detailed range of factors, including:

  • the place or places where the parties (and/or witnesses) reside or carry on business;
  • the location of the subject matter of the dispute;
  • which state/territory law governs the relevant contract (if there is a contract in dispute);
  • whether there is an exclusive jurisdiction clause on the contract that only permits the case to be heard in a certain location (if there is a contract in dispute);
  • whether the matter involves particular state legislation;
  • the procedures available in the different courts; and
  • the likely hearing dates in the different courts.

While state courts can transfer their matters to other states, they cannot transfer their matters to a federal court. This includes the Federal Court or the Family Court (unless those courts are able to hear the subject matter of the case).

Practical Considerations

Changing hearing locations can be highly complex. If it is unclear whether the court would agree that the venue should be changed, and the location becomes disputed, the case can become much more time-consuming and expensive. As a result, it is also worth considering whether you could instead:

  • hire a solicitor who is located near to the relevant venue and able to attend;
  • hire a solicitor close to yourself, who can hire a local agent close to the venue who can attend; or
  • travel to the venue yourself.

Key Takeaways

If the court your dispute is being heard is in a different city or state to you, you can apply to the court to move it to a different location. While applying to move the location of a case within the same state will be simpler, moving it to a different state will be more complex. When applying, it is important to keep practical considerations such as cost and time in mind. If you have questions about changing the location of your hearing, get in touch with LegalVision’s dispute resolution lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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Simon Hillier | Disputes and Litigation Lawyer | LegalVision
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