Frequently asked questions

Answers to common questions for self-represented litigants.

What do I do if I cannot attend a court hearing?

Every party to a case has an obligation to act quickly and minimise delay. It is important to participate in court hearings so that you can have a say about decisions that will be made about the case. If you are not there, your point of view will not be considered. Deciding not to attend a court hearing, or requesting a change to hearing dates at late notice could also mean that you have to pay legal costs.

If you are unable to attend a hearing, due to illness or another emergency, you should immediately notify the court registry and other parties.

In some circumstances it is possible to appear virtually (for example, by video link or teleconference). You should contact the court registry as soon as possible if you want to attend virtually. You will need permission from the Judge, so you will need to have good reason to do so.

If you are unable to attend a court hearing in advance (because you have another commitment that cannot be changed), you may be able to:

  • ask the Court and other parties to change the date. If the other party(ies) agree, the parties will need to inform the court in advance
  • ask the Court for the date to be changed.

It is better to ensure that any scheduled court hearing are made for a date when you know you are available. This is because your request may not be granted, or you may have to pay legal costs.

Can someone other than a lawyer represent me?

Only you or a lawyer can represent you in court. Friends or family are not able to appear or speak on your behalf in a hearing. You are allowed to have family members or friends come with you to court as general support.

In limited circumstances you may ask the Court to allow another person to assist you in court. This assistance is generally only allowed if you have a good reason for being unable to participate. If the Court allows another person to assist you, this assistance will usually be limited assisting you speak to the Court, and not to speak for you.

If you are looking to have another person assist you please contact the Court Registry on 03 8636 6508 and ask to speak with a Self-represented Litigant Case Manager.

What does this word mean?

Court rules, orders and documents often include legal terms that are not used in everyday language. The glossary has an explanation of commonly used terms in the Court. You may also find a term defined in the County Court Civil Procedure Rules 2018. You can also ask the Court to explain what a term means, including in the courtroom.

What if I am unhappy with the outcome of my case?

If you wish to contest, overturn or complain about an order or judgment made by a County Court judge, you may apply to the Supreme Court to have the order or judgment set aside. This is known as an appeal.

You need to start an appeal within 28 days of the judgment or the order being made.

The law which applies to the right to commence an appeal is complex. You will need to establish a sufficient basis upon which to start an appeal. You may wish to seek legal advice before commencing an appeal.

Further information about appeals to the Supreme Court, can be found here.

Which form do I use?

The County Court Civil Procedure Rules 2018 set out when a particular form is required. Those forms are set out at the end of the rules. Where no particular form is specified, the Court may have made a template which you can find here.

If you are unsure which form to use, you can search the Court’s website for information on common applications or contact the Court Registry.

I tried to start a case and it was refused

There are a many reasons the court may not accept filing of a document, but the most common are:

  • the application is irregular, that is, it doesn’t comply with the formatting or content rules
  • the application is an abuse of process
  • a statement of claim is not comprehensive, clear, or establish a proper legal basis
  • the claim or relief sought is outside the courts powers.

If the Court Registry refuses to file your document, you have the right to request that your document be put before a Judge to make a decision, or you can amend your documents and attempt to file again.

I need an original or authenticated order

Litigants usually receive sealed copies of orders made. If this does not occur and you require an original sealed copy of an order, you can ask the court for an authenticated order. You will need to provide the Registrar with 3 copies of Form 60C - General Form of Order.

The content should include exactly the order you wish to authenticate. If it matches exactly what the Court ordered, the Registrar will seal, sign and stamp the form. There is no fee to authenticate an order.

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Page last updated: 28 November 2018