Hearings in Queensland Courts – twelve tips

This factsheet is designed to give you some basic information to assist you to prepare for a court hearing in a civil case.

Twelve Tips

1. Know what your hearing is about.

  • If the other party have brought the application, read through their material carefully.
  • Is it a trial, or an interlocutory hearing?
  • If you have received an originating application, is it the first hearing?

2. Read the orders listed on the application carefully.

  • The application will list the orders that the other party is asking the court to make.
  • If you agree with the orders they seek, then you may be able to come to an agreement with the other party so that “consent orders” can be made.
  • This saves the court time, can save the parties’ costs, and can relieve the stress of appearing in court.

3. Can you attend the hearing?

  • The Application will state which court house the hearing will be held in.
  • The court expects the parties to proceedings to progress their case.
  • If you’ve been properly served with the application, and you do not turn up to the hearing, the court may still be able to deal with the matter, and make orders against you.
  • In some cases, you can approach the court registry to make arrangements to appear by telephone.

4. Applying for an adjournment?

  • If you have to apply for an adjournment, you should approach the other side and see if they will consent to an adjournment.
  • If your hearing is a trial in the District or Supreme Courts, be aware that the courts can be reluctant to adjourn trials, especially if they have been set down for some time.

5. You should make any application for an adjournment as strong as possible.

  • If you are asking for an adjournment on health grounds, you should have an affidavit or at least a detailed medical certificate from your doctor setting out why you cannot attend or participate in the hearing, what treatment you are receiving and when you will be able to participate in a hearing.
  • Never assume that an adjournment will be granted if you simply fax or write to the court.

6. Filing in response

  • If you are going to be filing anything in response to the application, make sure you file and serve a sealed copy of your material on the other party at least two business days before the hearing.

7. Consider taking a support person to the hearing.

  • Being in court is a stressful experience for many people and it can be helpful to have someone to attend the hearing with you.
  • While only a lawyer can represent a party in court, the court can give leave to allow a non-lawyer, called a “McKenzie friend” to assist you in the court.

8. Positioning in courtroom.

  • You should usually sit at the left hand side of the bar table (as you walk in to the court).

9. Court matters at hearings.

  • Sometimes, when you arrive at a hearing, the other party’s lawyer might approach you with a “consent order” or with submissions that they have drafted.
  • While this can be intimidating for many self-represented parties, it is often how court matters are conducted by lawyers.
  • If you need time to read through the documents, tell the Judge, and your matter may be able to be dealt with later in the day.

10. Before you leave a hearing make sure that you know:

a. What orders were made?
b. What is your next step, and when do you have to take it?
c. What is the other parties’ step and when do they have to take that?
  • Take notes. If you’re uncertain about what orders have been made, ask the judge to explain.

11. After the hearing.

  • After the hearing it is usual for one of the parties (usually the applicant) to prepare a Draft Order (Form 59, available here) that gets filed and sealed by the court.

12. Assistance for appearing in court.

  • If you are appearing in court, the Court Network for Humanity, a not for profit organisation that assists court users in a number of Queensland courts might be able to assist or refer you.
  • The Court Network for Humanity can be contacted by telephone at 1800 267 671.

More information

You can also see our factsheets on Court etiquette and Hearings in court – commonly used words.