What is a Directions Hearing?
Have you been issued a letter for a directions hearing? Read our guide to find out what is a directions hearing and how to prepare for your one.
Directions hearings are common occurrences in legal courts. They most commonly appear in matters that are heading to trial. Many will require you prepare certain documents and evidences.. This article will inform you of the definition of a directions hearing in a legal proceeding, what this will typically entail and how you can prepare for your hearing.
What is a Directions Hearing?
A directions hearing occurs as a response to you filing an application with the Federal Court. In brief, it is a court ordered process which the judge will make any orders about the next steps in the process. It aims to eliminate any unnecessary court fees and time that will be expended in proceeding to trial if there is an avenue for arbitration and settlement prior to this. The main purposes for a directions hearing are:
- To decide whether the case has merit to proceed to trial.
- Mark the start of a court process.
- For both parties receive directions regarding further steps that will be taken.
You must be aware that there can be several directions hearing. This will be dependent on your case and its nature and complexities. A directions hearing can also happen when there is a failure to comply with directions of the court or to book a trial date.
What happens in a Directions Hearing?
Typically, when your case is called forward in the appropriate court you and the other party will sit at the ‘bar table’. This is a table in front of the judge. You will announce to the judge who you are. It is important to be aware of court etiquette such as standing when talking and addressing the judge as ‘your honour’. Subsequently, the judge will ask if you have spoken to the other party and have come to a remedial agreement. If this has occurred, you should mention this to the judge. Once this has happened, the judge will tell you and the other party what the orders are. These orders can include when and how parties should attend hearing, when the matter is due back in court and directions for filing legal documents. For further information, the Law Access NSW website will be of use.
How can You Prepare for your Directions Hearing?
Preparing for your directions hearing can be daunting. But, the golden rule is prepare early and make sure you understand your case. Here are some handy tips to keep in mind when you are preparing for your directions hearing:
Understand your matter
The judge will ask you why you are bringing this matter forward. Thus, having an in-depth understanding of your matter will help the judge understand your desired outcome. The preparations of legal documents and evidences require a well thought out legal advice plan to ensure that you understand what is required from you and the legal process of a potential trial or arbitration.
Be clear on what compensation or outcome you are seeking
You should know prior to a directions hearing whether your compensation is one of liquidated or unliquidated damage. You can consult a lawyer to ensure that you understand your desired outcome.
Know the rules and practice notes that relate to your matter
You will need to be aware of the different rules and systems in place in your state. Therefore, being familiar with the obligations and appropriate procedures for serving and filing legal documents is imperative to a smooth court process.
In essence, a directions hearing is considered the initial step into a matter to be decided by a judge. This will often mean that you will have many lawyer consultations as well as significant interaction with the other party to ensure that both sides are equipped with sufficient knowledge.
Cecilia is a final year law student completing her Practical Legal Training at Lawpath. She has an avid interest in intellectual property.