District Court NSW: New practice note and standard orders for hearings

To come into effect on 16 October 2017 for matters in the general list of the District Court of NSW (Sydney, Gosford and Newcastle) is a new Practice Note DC (Civil) No 1 and a new Standard Orders for Hearings document. Both were published in the NSW Government Gazette No 114 (6 October 2017) on page 5827.

Points of interest, not all new, include:

  • Clause 2.1 – Before commencing proceedings or filing a defence, legal practitioners
    must give their clients notice in writing about the requirements of this Practice Note and of the Court’s insistence on compliance with its orders. That notice must state that the Court may dismiss actions or cross claims or strike out defences if orders are not complied with and that the Court may make costs orders against parties who fail to comply with its orders.
  • Clause 3.1 – The plaintiff must serve proposed consent orders for the preparation of
    the case on the defendant with the statement of claim. The orders must be drafted specifically for each case. They must include all steps necessary to ensure that the case will be ready to be referred to mediation and/or other form of alternative dispute resolution and listed for trial at the status conference.
  • Clause 3.2 – If the defendant does not agree with the proposed orders, or wants to
    add additional steps, it must serve amended consent orders on the plaintiff’s solicitor at least 7 days before the pre-trial conference.
  • Clause 4.2 – Cases should not be mentioned by consent unless they are settled or
    ready for a hearing date.
  • Clause 5.3 – No case may be entered into the Commercial, Intentional Torts or
    Professional Negligence lists before the pre-trial conference.
  • Clause 5.4 – An application may be made at the pre-trial conference for a case to be
    placed in the Commercial, Intentional Torts or Professional Negligence lists. Any application must be supported by an affidavit setting out the reasons for entering a case in that list.
  • Clause 5.7 – The Court will give directions for the service of expert reports under
    rule 31.19 at the pre-trial conference. The parties must be able to tell the Court the precise nature of any expert evidence to be relied on and the names of all experts so that appropriate directions can be made.

In the standard orders for hearing, conclaves and concurrent evidence are referred to including under paragraph 9 a requirement that the experts, before giving their oral evidence, should confer with the intent of reducing the issues between them. Thereafter a joint report should be prepared stating areas of agreement and continued disagreement. Where areas of continued disagreement remain, reasons must be stated by each expert (or group of experts holding a common opinion) for such continued disagreement.


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