Local Court > What to expect in court > Going to court for a civil case

Going to court for a civil case 

All parties in civil cases are encouraged to try and reach an agreement without needing to go to court. Community Justice Centres provide free mediation to help people in dispute reach agreements.

Most civil cases do not have a hearing or need parties to attend court. 

Where a defence to a Statement of Claim is filed, the case is listed before the court. What occurs after the defence is filed depends on the division the case will be heard in.

If you want to lodge a defence but a default judgment has been entered, you can apply to have the default judgment set aside. This is done by filing a notice of motion. You should get advice about your defence and what to include in the notice of motion.

Small Claims Division

After a defence is filed, the case is listed for a pre-trial review before a registrar, assessor or magistrate. The pre-trial review is to help the parties reach an agreement without the need for a hearing.

If agreement cannot be reached, the court will make orders for witness statements to be filed and will list the case for a small claims hearing. 

Witnesses do not attend a small claims hearing, unless a magistrate decides otherwise. The assessor or magistrate will read the witness statements and make a decision in the case.

Find more information from this Community Justice Centre fact sheet - Small Claims [DOC 97kb] 

General Division    

After a defence is filed, the case is listed for a call-over set case management orders. The parties may be ordered to do certain things or to file documents. If the case is not settled, it will be listed for a hearing. Witnesses will attend and give evidence.

A magistrate will hear the witnesses and make a decision in the case.

Settling a civil case    

Parties that reach an agreement in their case can file orders with the court. Find more information about settling civil cases.

Read more about solving the problem without going to court in Alternative dispute resolution.

Need help?

Call LawAccess NSW 1300 888 529

Before starting any court proceedings you should check which court or tribunal is right for your matter. Call LawAccess NSW for help.

LawAccess NSW is a free government telephone service that provides legal information, referrals and in some cases, advice for people who have a legal problem in New South Wales.

Visit www.lawaccess.justice.nsw.gov.au

The Representing yourself section of the LawAccess website can help you if you have a legal problem in New South Wales. Representing yourself explains legal procedures and forms for court and tribunal cases. It provides:

  • step by step guides to starting and running your case
  • instructions for filling out court forms
  • checklists and frequently asked questions
  • information on alternatives to court
  • contacts for further information and advice






Need legal advice or information?       

Staff at the NSW Local Court cannot give legal advice. Find out where to get legal advice or information.    

Solve your problem without going to court

Community Justice Centres provide experienced mediators free of charge, to help people in dispute reach an agreement.

The information on this site is a guide only and is not legal advice - see disclaimer.