Court procedure - Car crashes
What does the claimant have to do after receiving a statement of defence?
Once the defendant has lodged and served their statement of defence, the case must be listed for a pre-trial conference. The claimant must ask the court to list a pre-trial conference in a general procedure claim. The court will do this for you in a minor case claim.
You should bring any witness statements and other documents (for example, photos, police statements, repair quotes) you think may be useful with you to the pre-trial conference.
At the pre-trial conference, the court registrar will help the claimant and defendant identify the issues that need to be decided in the case, and explore possible settlement options.
If the case does not settle, the registrar can refer the matter to mediation, or list the case for a trial.
Can I make an offer to settle the case?
You can try to settle at any time during the court process.
Be open minded about offers of settlement – it may save time, money and avoid stress! The outcome at trial can be uncertain: for example, if you reject an offer of settlement and the case then goes to a hearing at court, the magistrate could decide the other person owes you less than they initially offered.
What happens at the trial?
The court must act fairly and give the claimant and the defendant a chance to present their cases.
The claimant must prove:
- who the defendant is
- that the defendant was negligent, and
- how much damage they caused.
The claimant and the defendant can both give evidence about what happened to cause the crash, and can ask questions of each other’s evidence and the witnesses’ evidence. Both should bring any other evidence to support what they are saying. Witnesses can only give evidence about relevant facts. Facts are what people directly hear or see, and are not opinions. The court will only hear opinions from experts.
Once the claimant and the defendant have finished presenting their cases, the magistrate may decide the outcome at the hearing or give their decision on a later date.
This picture shows what a typical courtroom might look like.
The magistrate is the person who decides your case. The magistrate sits at the highest table in the court room. They might ask you questions (or ask your lawyer, if you have one). You can ask the magistrate to repeat anything you don’t understand, or ask any questions you might have. You should call the magistrate, 'Your Honour'.
JSO - Judicial support officer
The JSO is a court officer who sits in front of the magistrate. They help with the administrative tasks in court, such as recording exhibits and swearing in witnesses.
The Court Orderly directs people to the correct court room and 'calls' a matter when the court is ready to hear the case. The Orderly reminds people about the rules for appearing in court. If you have any questions about the court process, they can help you personally, or direct you to the correct person to speak to at the court.
The claimant is the person who starts a claim in the Magistrates Court. The claimant sits on the right hand side of the bar table.
The defendant is the person named as the other party in the claim. They sit on the left hand side of the bar table.
- Magistrates Court of WA - Fees, forms and factsheets
You can also get these in person from any Magistrates Court registry.
Find legal answers
Going to court over money
- Getting ready for trial
- Settling a case
- Judgments and default judgments
- Appeals and setting aside judgments