Final Hearings – what are they and what happens?
Our aim at Forshaw Lawyers is to stay out of court, keep costs down and avoid wasting your time caught up in the stress of litigation.
There are times however that matters need to be litigated and unfortunately have to go to final hearing.
The commencement of a final hearing is the beginning of the end of the court process for your matter.
Preparation is essential for final hearing and preparation does not just stop with solicitors or barristers. Clients and witnesses also have the stresses of preparing for a final hearing and ensuring that they are well aware of their evidence and the evidence filed by the other party and the orders they are seeking. It is a good idea that parties re-read their evidence BEFORE the final hearing.
At a final hearing parties should have filed their trial material in accordance with directions made by the judicial officer. Subpoenas would have been issued in advance of the hearing and inspected.
Parties and witnesses are cross-examined at a final hearing. Cross-examination is a process where witnesses and parties are asked questions and their evidence is challenged. Witnesses need to have considered before they get in the witness box whether they will make an oath or an affirmation.
Very often in parenting matters there will be a family report or expert report and the report writer will also be asked to give oral evidence. In property matters there may be expert evidence from valuers.
Very often barristers are instructed to run final hearings as they have the expertise to cross-examine and challenge the evidence before the court.
Parties are able to negotiate a settlement prior to the commencement of a final hearing or even during a hearing. If the parties do not reach an agreement the Judge will need to deliver a judgment which can sometimes take weeks or months to be handed down.
Parties can also seek costs in certain circumstances.
1. Make sure your witnesses know when and where to come to court.
2. Read the trial plan and make sure you understand what will happen.
3. Read all the affidavits from your case and the other party’s case to make sure you are familiar with the evidence.
4. Prepare questions if you want to cross-examine any of the witnesses.
5. Consider making an opening explanation (address) to the Court.
6. If possible, visit a family law registry (office) to watch the proceedings in another case