Before a hearing is held

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Directions conference

A directions conference chaired by a judge is usually arranged after a statement of defence is filed.  The registrar will inform you and the other party of the date and time of the conference. 

A conference will usually be by telephone conference call but may sometimes be in person at a courthouse or by video conference. At the conference the judge will discuss with you and the other party any outstanding aspects of the case and a date for the hearing may be discussed and may be allocated.

Note: If you are represented by a lawyer or advocate the registrar will call your representative only.  You may attend together with your representative, providing the registry receives advice to that effect in advance of the conference.

The judge will issue a minute (a formal note) after the conference with a timetable of what is to happen leading up to the hearing.  You must comply with all directions issued by a judge (called the timetable directions) to ensure a smooth process is maintained up to the hearing.

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Mediation

Parties can agree to go to mediation at any time during the court process. An alternative to mediation may be an agreed judicial settlement conference (see below).

At the first directions conference the judge will discuss with you and the other party whether mediation could resolve your dispute. If a referral is made, you must attend mediation or a further mediation, in good faith, before your case is heard.1

Information exchanged during mediation is confidential and cannot be disclosed to outside parties or other employment institutions, unless agreed by the parties.

If you reach settlement at mediation the plaintiff may be asked to file a notice of discontinuance.

Find a notice of discontinuance form on our forms and fees page.

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Judicial settlement conference

Judicial settlement conference

A judicial settlement conference room

A judicial settlement conference, convened by a judge, is arranged only if both parties agree to attend such a conference. Information exchanged during a settlement conference is confidential and cannot be disclosed to outside parties or other employment institutions, unless agreed by the parties.

If you do not reach a settlement, a different judge will conduct the main hearing and no information from the conference will be disclosed to the trial judge.

The registrar will send you a notice about settlement conference.  The notice will tell you the date and time of the conference and ask you to file the following documents before the settlement conference:

  • A memorandum for a judicial settlement conference
  • “Will say” statements of your potential witnesses. A "will say" statement is a summary version of a brief of evidence that outlines what a witness may say in evidence. 

If you reach settlement at the conference you will be asked how you wish the settlement to be recorded. The plaintiff may be asked to file a notice of discontinuance.

Find out more about settlement conferences [PDF, 14 KB] and witness briefs [PDF, 265 KB].

Find a notice of discontinuance form on our forms and fees page.

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Withdrawal of proceedings

If you reach settlement (either at mediation or at a settlement conference) the plaintiff might be asked to file a notice of discontinuance, or a consent judgment might be issued on an application of the parties.

At any stage prior to judgment, the plaintiff or applicant can withdraw any matter before the Court by filing a notice of discontinuance or letter of withdrawal of proceedings.2

Find a notice of discontinuance form on our forms and fees page.

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Briefs of evidence

A brief of evidence is a statement of what a witness will say when giving his or her evidence. Generally, you will be directed to file briefs of evidence and serve them on the party before the hearing, according to a timetable made by a judge.  They will form the basis of evidence given orally at the hearing.

Find out more about witness briefs [PDF, 265 KB].

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Common bundle of documents

The common bundle of documents contains documents that will be referred to by witnesses in their evidence or referred to in submissions.  Please note you cannot include documents "just in case".

You and the other party must work together to create a common bundle of documents.  A judge may also ask you and the other party to agree on and file a chronology (a list of everything that happened in date order from the earliest to the most recent).  

At a directions conference a judge will direct either you or the other party to prepare and file copies of the bundle.

Documents in the bundle should be indexed (the list at the front of the bundle that tells what is in the bundle and where you can find each document) and the pages of the bundle as a whole consecutively numbered.

If you are responsible for preparing the bundle, you must file copies of the bundle with the registry, and serve one copy on the other party.  You must also prepare a further copy and hand to the registrar in courtroom for the witnesses to use.  Sometimes a judge may direct you to file an electronic bundle of documents.

See an example common bundle of documents [PDF, 125 KB]

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Footnotes

  1. s 188 Employment Relations Act 2000 (external link)
  2. Cl 18, Schedule 3, Employment Relations Act 2000 (external link)  

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