A directions hearing is held before a SAT member or judge, and all parties are expected to attend. The parties may attend in person or be represented by their lawyer or another representative.
In a directions hearing, the SAT member or judge will try to identify the issues in dispute and plan how the application will proceed, including whether the application should be referred to mediation or a compulsory conference.
If a party cannot attend the hearing because they live outside the metropolitan area, are ill, or face other special circumstances, they may be able to make arrangements with SAT to participate by telephone or video conference.
At the first directions hearing, the SAT member may ask the parties to:
- pinpoint the real issues;
- name key witnesses;
- state which documents will be tendered as part of their case;
- estimate the time it will take to present their case at the final hearing;
- consider mediation, compulsory conference, or a decision based on the documents; and/or
- advise SAT of their availability to attend mediation, a compulsory conference or a final hearing at a date suggested.
The SAT member or judge will advise how the matter will be handled. The member or judge can make final or preliminary orders.
Preliminary orders may be made concerning:
- compulsory conference;
- a decision based on the documents;
- final hearing dates;
- further directions hearings;
- further information required;
- witness and expert statements; and
- future conduct of the application.
Final orders may be made if:
- the parties served with the application or a notice of hearing fail to attend the first directions hearing;
- the parties agree and consent to an outcome and SAT makes the final decision; or
- the member or judge determines all relevant evidence has been submitted and will make a final decision.
All final decisions by SAT have reasons given for the decision.
In some cases, such as applications under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990, matters may proceed straight to a final hearing. In other cases, a decision may be decided on the documents. In these instances, a directions hearing may not be held.
Last updated: 21 August 2023
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