Family Court of Western Australia

Readiness Hearing

The readiness hearing is a procedural hearing to make sure your case is ready for trial. You will be given notice of the date of your readiness hearing at least two months prior. Readiness hearings are conducted by the managing magistrate or judge, or by a registrar.

You must attend your readiness hearing unless your lawyer attends, or the judicial officer has given you permission not to attend.

A readiness hearing is not an opportunity to negotiate, and the judicial officer will not assist in settlement discussions at this hearing. However, if the parties arrive at the readiness hearing with an agreement, the judicial officer can make orders by consent, including to finalise the case.

All trial documents should have been filed and each party should have filed a written notice confirming that they have complied with their duty of disclosure.

How to prepare for the readiness hearing

At previous court appearances, the judicial officer would have made procedural orders telling you what you need to do prior to your readiness hearing. Generally, the procedural orders will provide a timetable for the:

  • filing and service of trial affidavits and other documents.
  • payment of the setting down and hearing fees.

You will need to make sure that you have complied with those orders, it is very important that you understand your duty of disclosure.

At least 56 days before the readiness hearing (unless any orders state otherwise), each party must file and serve an Undertaking as to Disclosure (with a list of the documents disclosed attached), confirming that they have complied with their duty of disclosure.

At least seven days before the readiness hearing, each party must file and serve a Trial Plan. The Trial Plan will assist you to calculate the likely length of the trial, and needs to set out the expected length of your opening and closing addresses, and the list of witnesses required to be called, together with the time needed for examination and cross examination of the witnesses.

At the readiness hearing you should be prepared to answer questions about:

  • the main issues of fact or law relevant to your case.
  • whether you have complied with all previous orders, including in relation to the filing of your documents for trial.
  • whether you have specified with precision the final orders you seek at trial.
  • compliance with all necessary interim or preparatory matters, including disclosure and inspection of disclosure documents.
  • whether any issues are agreed.
  • how many witnesses will be needed at trial, and which of the other party’s witnesses you intend to cross-examine.
  • the likely length of the trial.
  • whether the matter requires a fixed date for trial.
  • whether interpreters are required for the trial.
  • whether telephone or video link facilities will be required for trial.
  • whether a bring-up order is required for a witness who is in prison.

Failure to file documents

If one party has failed to file their documents in time, the judicial officer may still program the case to a trial date to ensure that the party who has complied with orders will not be prejudiced. Alternatively, the Court may consider orders striking out the defaulting party’s application and giving the other party permission to proceed with the case as if it is undefended.

If both parties have failed to file their documents by the readiness hearing, further procedural orders may be made dismissing the whole case.

Next steps

The judicial officer will decide if the parties have filed all of the required documents and whether the matter is ready to be programmed to a trial date.  The judicial officer will also make orders about the filing of further documents in preparation for trial, including the Papers for the Judicial Officer and about the payment of fees, if not already done.

If you are ready for trial, the judicial officer will place your case in the next available Callover, and order you to file a Callover Certificate.  You or your lawyer must attend the Callover, which is a procedural hearing where your case will be allocated a trial date (usually 2 or 3 months later).  You can indicate on your Callover Certificate that you do not wish to attend the Callover, and that you will take any trial date that can be allocated to your case.

Last updated: 4-Oct-2023

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