Each action commenced in the District Court will be allocated a pre-trial conference once it has been entered for trial. Each party to the action must attend the pre-trial conference. Where the party is a corporate entity, it will need to be represented by someone with authority to conduct negotiations and settle the action.
Pre-trial conferences take place on Level 1, District Court Building, 500 St George’s terrace, Perth. Most pre-trial conferences are listed to start between 9.30am and 11.00am. There is a comfortable waiting area and facilities for obtaining refreshments. Smoking is not permitted in the building.
Since a pre-trial conference might run for several hours, it is necessary for long-stay parking to be utilised. It is not appropriate for children to be brought to a pre-trial conference, so parties with young children should ensure that they have made suitable child-care arrangements.
On the day of the conference, parties arriving without their lawyers should attend at the reception desk, where the pre-trial conference Secretary will assist them.
Though each pre-trial conference is unique, it is usual for the parties (through their lawyers, unless they are acting in person) to start by discussing matters relating to the action between themselves. Interview rooms are available for this process.
If the parties themselves are unable to reach a negotiated settlement, the matter will usually proceed before a Registrar. Registrars of the District Court are independent judicial officers. They are qualified lawyers with many years’ experience as mediators.
The Registrar will conduct the formal pre-trial conference as he/she considers appropriate in the circumstances. The parties will be given an opportunity to explain their individual positions and to give details of any settlement proposals. It is not unusual for the Registrar then to speak with each party (and their lawyers) privately.
If a settlement is achieved, documents consenting to judgment for the agreed amount can often be signed on the spot. In some cases, it will be necessary for further paperwork to be processed.
Parties without legal representation should note that the Registrar will explain any relevant procedural requirements, but cannot give legal advice.
If an action cannot be settled at the pre-trial conference, it will usually be adjourned to a listing conference, for the allocation of trial dates.
Last updated: 2-Jul-2014
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