Before you either commencing court proceedings, or oppose a claim against you, you may wish to ask the following questions:
You may try to resolve your dispute (or at least some aspects of it) before you start a court case using a process called mediation.
Before taking any steps, it is first necessary to identify where you should start your case.
Examples of cases that can be brought in the Supreme Court include:
The Supreme Court also determines all
probate applications where the deceased had assets in New South Wales, but the vast majority of these applications are resolved without formal, contested court proceedings.
There are a number of other courts and tribunals in New South Wales who handle civil disputes. Reviewing the websites of other jurisdictions could help you determine if your dispute should be resolved in
another court or tribunal. The
LawAssist website contains detailed help in resolving civil disputes commonly handled in other State courts and tribunals.
You should also be aware that some civil disputes must be determined in
Commonwealth courts or tribunals.
Before you start your case, you should check that you are not out of time. Civil proceedings must be started within a fixed period called a limitation period. After the limitation period has expired, the claim usually cannot be brought. You may need to
seek legal assistance to help determine whether or not you are out of time.
When you file some documents either online or in the Registry, you will be required to pay a filing fee. Documents that require a fee to be paid include any documents commencing proceedings, as well as notices of motion and subpoenas. These fees can be quite substantial. Current fees are published on the Court's websitehere. If you cannot afford to pay the fees, you can apply for a waiver or postponement of payment in certain circumstances. You will need to complete an application form from the Supreme Court website available here and supply supporting documentation. If you are a Pensioner or in receipt of Centrelink benefits you will need to provide a copy of your Centrelink card. More information can be obtained from the Registry.
Importantly, even if your fee is postponed until after your case has been decided, you may still be required to pay part of the filing fees first. If any fees are postponed, it is only until the end of the case, at which time they will become payable.
Also, if your case proceeds to a formal hearing before a Judge or Associate Judge, you will be charged a "hearing allocation fee". Current fees are set out on the Supreme Court website available
here. If your matter settles before the allocated hearing date, you will still be charged the hearing allocation fee. If you are unable to pay the fee immediately you may make an application to have the fee postponed until the case is finished. Even if the filing fees to start your case were postponed, you will still need to make a new application to postpone the hearing allocation fee.
Just because you choose not to pay a lawyer to represent you does not mean that you will not incur costs by bringing a matter to Court. This is one reason why, if you can, it is much better to settle a dispute out of Court than to engage in litigation.
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