The information on this page has been designed to assist applicants who are representing themselves in a hearing in the Land Court. It is important to remember that Registry staff may assist with general court proceedings and protocol, but cannot provide legal advice. If you require an explanation of the law you should consider contacting a community legal centre; contact details can be found at Useful Links
Before the Hearing
When your matter is set down for hearing, you will receive a Court Notice advising the place, date and time of the hearing. This notice is sent well in advance of the date of the hearing (at least 1 month prior).
It would be beneficial if you bring with you two copies of any exhibits you may wish to tender (one for the Court and one for the respondent).
Members of the Court are not robed. A person appearing before the Court should demonstrate respect for the Court and dress in appropriate attire.
Form of Address
Members of the Court should be addressed as “Your Honour”. The Judicial Registrar should be addressed as “Sir/Madam” or as introduced.
The Hearing Day
When you arrive for the hearing, you will see on display a list of cases and this will indicate the room which will be used for the hearing.
The Deputy Registrar (referred to later simply as Registrar) will meet you when your case is called, explain the procedure and help you with any problems.
If you are representing the party as an agent you should produce to the Registrar, written authority from the party and ensure that you are sufficiently instructed to deal with all matters that may arise.
In the court room the applicant occupies a chair at the left side of the bar table and the respondent's representative sits at the right side of the bar table (see diagram below).
The Deputy Registrar who assists the Member during the proceeding will generally sit in front of the bench or to the right of the member and assist with recording the proceedings and handing up any exhibits.
Your Case Commences
When both parties are ready to proceed, the Registrar will advise the Member of the Court. It is customary when the Registrar opens the Court and the Member enters that everyone in the courtroom stands until the Member is seated. It is customary for parties to stand when addressing the Court.
When the matter is called, you should give your name and state that you are representing yourself in the matter or that you are representing the applicant if you are acting as agent for that person. The representative for the respondent follows the same procedure.
The hearing commences with you being invited to enter the witness box to give evidence under oath or affirmation. You should take with you any papers or other material to which you might wish to refer. In your Hearing Notice it will be suggested that you prepare your evidence in advance of the hearing and bring two copies of any written statements or exhibits you wish to tender. While this is not essential it will often assist you in ensuring that you do not overlook any particular point which you wish to make. Even if you do tender a written statement you may enlarge on the points you have made or give evidence on material matters which may not have been discussed in your statement. For valuation appeals you should remember to direct your evidence to the grounds which you have set out in the notice of appeal. Under the provisions of the Valuation of Land Act, your appeal is limited to the grounds stated in the notice.
When you have completed your evidence-in-chief, the representative for the respondent can direct questions to you. This is referred to as cross-examination. It may be that before giving evidence, the respondent has made available to you a copy of the documents which are intended to be produced as evidence. The Member will usually invite you to make any comments on these documents.
When you have completed your evidence you will be invited to return to the bar table. If you intend to call further witnesses you should advise the Court. The witness will be invited to enter the witness box. You should ask the witness to state his or her name, occupation and address and then you proceed to direct any questions you may have. When you have completed your questioning, the respondent has the right to cross-examine the witness.
At the conclusion of all of the evidence which you wish to bring forward in argument, the respondent's representative has the opportunity to go through the same process of giving evidence and calling witnesses, although this is not compulsory. You may, of course, cross-examine any of the respondent's witnesses.
On completion of the evidence each party has the opportunity to make a final address to the Court.
Usually each party bears their own legal costs. You should consider whether you wish to seek an order for costs at the time the judgment is handed down. You may wish to seek the leave of the Court to bring an application for costs within a certain timeframe.
The Court will usually reserve its decision, and prepare written reasons for its decision.
Judgment, together with written reasons, will be handed down in Court at a later time and a copy forwarded to each party and any government entity entitled to receive a copy. Upon expiration of any appeal period, exhibits tendered during the hearing will be returned.
You need not be apprehensive about making your first appearance in the Land Court. The Member of the Court will endeavour to assist you in bringing forth all of the facts which you think are relevant to your case and the respondent will be courteous in asking questions of you.
If you are in doubt on any point you can seek assistance from the Deputy Registrar before the hearing.
Last updated December 7, 2012