Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Representing Yourself

Making Application to and Appearances before a Commissioner, Full Bench of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Guidelines for Representing Yourself

Although proceedings before the Commission and Full Bench are reasonably informal, there is some formality. Also, there is politeness required. When you are representing yourself in the Commission, you are trying to persuade the Commissioner or Full Bench that you are right. So, you must act, dress and speak in a way that helps you with your case. Here are some tips:

  • When appearing before the Commission dress as neatly as possible.
  • How you act is as important as how you look. You must be respectful to everyone in the Commission. This includes the Commission members, staff, the other party involved in your case, witnesses and people in the hallways.
  • The Commission has a very busy schedule, so you must be on time. If you are late, your hearing might be adjourned, or the matter might be heard in your absence. Make sure you bring all the documents you need for your hearing.
  • Commissioners or members of the Full Bench cannot speak to you about your case except when your case is being heard and when the other party is there. The Commission staff will help you in any way they can with questions like the date when your hearing is listed or whether the Commissioner or the Full Bench has decided yet on your matter.  Staff cannot give you legal advice or recommendations on what you should do. Always be polite with Commissioners and with Commission staff and be prepared to provide any information they request.
  • When you represent yourself in the Commission, get legal advice from a lawyer or agent ahead of time to make sure you are doing the right thing. Legal advice includes deciding which option is best for you. Some lawyers or agents provide advice which is a way of helping you to help yourself.
  • In summary always remember the 4 p's: Professionalism, Punctuality (or being on time), Politeness and Preparation. This will go a long way toward helping you help yourself in the Commission.
  • Generally speaking, your matter will be before the Full Bench, if you are appealing against the decision of a single Commissioner or an Industrial Magistrate, or, if you are a respondent or objector in certain other proceedings, such as enforcement proceedings or applications to register organisations or change their rules. This is not a complete list of the proceedings which can be brought.

If you require:

  1. General Commission information.
  2. Commission forms and instructions to help people with various kinds of cases.
  3. Lists of lawyers and agents who will help with a case by providing advice. This would include, in this Commission, reference to the Legal Aid Commission and Community Legal Centres.

Please ask the Registry staff of the Commission and/or visit the Commission’s website.

How does the Commission contact me?

You must always let the Commission know your current contact address and telephone number. The way to do this is on any application, appeal or referral that you make, or by advising in writing, quoting the number of the matter. If you change your contact address and/or telephone number during the proceedings, you must advise the Commission in writing of this. If you do not do so, you may miss important communications. If you do miss important communications, this could mean unnecessary delays for you, or you may not receive the Commission's notices and the hearing may proceed without you.


The Commission has a policy in relation to interpreters. If you need an interpreter for the hearing, please contact the Commission well before the date of the hearing.

Who can represent you?

At the hearing, you can represent yourself, or you can be represented by your union, your employer body, an industrial agent or a legal practitioner (with leave of the Commissioner or the Full Bench).

Notice of hearing

You will be sent a 'Notice of Hearing' stating that you need to attend at a particular date and time at the specified address. You will not receive any other notice.


What should I do on the day of the hearing?

What should I wear to the Commission?

You should dress comfortably. A minimum standard of dress is neat casual which includes appropriate footwear.

What should I take with me to court?

You should take with you:

  1. Copies of all the documents filed by you or served on you during the proceedings. These should be organised so that you can find any document easily.
  2. Any other documents that you want to use.
  3. Pens and paper.
  4. This guide, if you think that might be helpful.

Who can come to court with me?

Hearings in the Commission are open to the public, unless the Commission orders otherwise. You may bring friends and relatives with you to court for support.

What time should I get to court?

You should be ready and waiting in the courtroom at least fifteen minutes before the hearing. If you are late, you should telephone the Associate to the Commissioner or the presiding member of the Full Bench, depending on your matter.  Otherwise, the proceedings may start without you.

When you arrive, you should go into the court and report to the Associate that you are there.

How should I behave in court?

  1. If you are the appellant (or an applicant), you should be behind the right-hand microphone at the bar table. The respondent should be on the left.
  2. You should always address members of the Full Bench and Commissioners as Commissioner.
  3. Do not speak when a Commissioner is speaking.
  4. Stand up when you are speaking to a Commissioner, or when a Commissioner is speaking to you.  Sit down at other times. Only one person should be standing at a time.
  5. When you are speaking, remain behind the microphone.
  6. If you want to show something to the Commission, say so and hold it out for the Associate to take to them. If you want to produce a document to the Full Bench you should have five (5) copies for the Associate to hand to the Full Bench members and the other party and witness/es.
  7. Do not interrupt the other party, unless you have a proper objection or query in which case you should rise and wait for the Full Bench or Commissioner to recognise you.
  8. No food or drink is allowed in the courtroom, nor is chewing gum permitted. Water is provided.
  9. Mobile telephones and pagers must be switched off.
  10. Commission officers can give you help if you have questions about what to do, but they cannot give you legal advice.

Hearings (which are not appeals)

These matters are usually decided after the Commission has heard evidence from witnesses and/or received documents as evidence. If you are calling witnesses to prove your case, you will need to have them at the court on the day fixed for the hearing. You, yourself can be a witness if you wish. You should prepare your case beforehand.

Opening address

It would be a good idea to prepare your address, even though you are not a lawyer. You should outline your case.

Hearings before the Full Bench on appeal

If you are appealing a decision of the Commission or the Industrial Magistrates Court, you must state why you say the Commissioner or Magistrate at first instance was in error and why the appeal should be allowed if you are the appellant; or why you say the Commissioner at first instance was right and not in error as alleged by the appellant if you are the respondent.

What happens during the hearing of an appeal?

If, at any stage during the hearing, you are confused or unsure how to proceed, do not be afraid to ask the presiding Commissioner on the Bench.

  1. The appellant presents his/her case.
  2. The respondent presents his/her case.
  3. The appellant replies.
  4. Court usually starts at 10.30 am each day and adjourns at 4.00 pm. The Full Bench may take a mid-morning break and the lunch break is usually from 1.00 pm to 2.15 pm. All of these times are at the Full Bench's discretion.

When is the decision given?

The Commissioner or the Full Bench may give the decision and make orders at the end of the proceedings. If so, you may request a written copy of the reasons for decision which will be sent to you after the Commissioner or Full Bench has had an opportunity to edit them.

The Commissioner or Full Bench may reserve their decision.  It is usually reserved without specifying a date or time. The Associate will contact you to tell you when the decision is being given. Alternatively, she/he may post or email it to you.

Publication of decisions

The Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA) requires that all decisions of the Commission be published in the Western Australian Industrial Gazette and on its website.  Other legal database websites may also publish certain decisions of the Commission.  This is no different to any other court or tribunal. 

There are very exceptional circumstances in which there may be the anonymisation of names in these decisions, such as the suppression of the names of minors.

 Where can I go for advice on preparing for hearing?

The Legal Aid Commission of Western Australia

32 St Georges Terrace, Perth
Telephone: (08) 9261 6200 (Information Line)
1300 650 579 (cost of a local call)

Community Legal Centres

For a referral to an appropriate community legal centre contact the Community Legal Centres Association (WA) Inc.
Telephone: (08) 9221 9322


The Employment Law Centre of WA (Inc) is set up to help vulnerable employees understand and enforce their rights at work through quality legal advice.  They can provide advice about the merits of a claim, as well as how to prepare a claim being dealt with by the Commission. 

Employees can contact them via their advice line: https://elcwa.org.au/advice-line/


Telephone: (08) 9221 4402


Industrial Agents

- Listed on our website.

Employer/Employee Organisations

- Listed on our website.

Free Legal Advice (Pro Bono) Scheme

On 1 November 2014 the Commission introduced a scheme to assist employers or employees not represented by a lawyer to have access to free legal advice in some circumstances. This is called a pro bono scheme. Thanks to the kind participation of several Perth law firms who are prepared to participate, the Commission may be able to refer an unrepresented employee or employer to a legal practitioner for free advice or assistance in relation to:

  • a claim of unfair dismissal
  • a claim of a benefit due under a contract of employment, or
  • an appeal to the Public Service Appeal Board.

The pro bono scheme aims to provide assistance only to unrepresented employees or employers who:

  • may be socially disadvantaged (eg. language or literacy difficulties)
  • have no access to a union or professional association which might otherwise be able to provide advice
  • have difficulty understanding the process, or part of it, to which they are a party.

The free assistance provided includes obtaining advice, drafting documents and possibly representation.

Referral for assistance under the scheme is only at the discretion of a Commissioner or the Registrar. The Commission and the Registrar are under no obligation to refer an unrepresented litigant for assistance. Also, a referral does not guarantee that a legal practitioner will be available to accept the referral.

The Commission acknowledges the kind participation of the following firms:

  • Ashurst Australia
  • Clayton Utz
  • DLA Piper
  • Jackson McDonald
  • Kott Gunning Lawyers
  • Minter Ellison Lawyers
  • Workwise Advisory Services

For further information, please contact the Pro Bono Scheme Coordinator on:
Phone (08) 9420 4444
Email: Click HERE

How to contact the Commission

Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

17th Floor
111 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000

Telephone: (08) 9420 4444
Facsimile: (08) 9420 4500

Website: www.wairc.wa.gov.au
Email: Click HERE





A formal written statement that you have sworn or affirmed, setting out the facts of your case (your evidence).

Conduct money

When a summons is served, the person serving it must provide the person summonsed with sufficient money for return travel between that person's residence or employment (whichever is appropriate) and the Commission. For example, bus or train fares.


Instructions given by the a Commissioner or an Industrial Magistrate which you must comply with. For example, you may be directed when to file documents.

Directions hearing

The first date that an application for final orders comes before the Commission. Orders are made about the way that your case will proceed through the Commission. For example, orders about when documents are to be filed or orders for a conciliation conference.

Discoverable documents

Documents that you have in your possession, custody or control which are relevant to your case. Possession, custody or control is a legal term which covers more than documents in your physical possession. If you have questions about this term, seek legal advice.


A process where one side provides to the other side a list of documents in their possession, custody or control which are relevant to the case. Possession, custody or control is a legal term which covers more than documents in your physical possession. If you have questions about this term, seek legal advice.


To lodge a document in the Registry of the Commission and have it stamped with the seal of the Commission.

For Mention

Used where an application is set down for hearing but only to deal formally with a preliminary issue not to deal with the merit of the application. It is similar to a Directions Hearing. A preliminary issue includes such things as whether the application has been served on the other party, or whether the other party is correctly named, or it may be to discuss what dates are suitable for hearing the merit of the application or even whether the application should be dismissed because of a preliminary issue.

Notice to Produce

You may have had this notice served on you. It requires you to bring certain documents to your hearing. You may also make an application to have a notice to produce served on the other party.


You and the other side are parties to the proceedings.

Practice Directions

These are directions issued by the Commission about practices and procedures to be followed in cases.

Waiver of the fees

You can apply for a remission of the fees. This means that you do not have to pay certain fees that the Commission charges. If you hold certain Social Security cards or can show financial hardship, you may not have to pay certain fees. You can get the form to apply for a waiver of the fees at the Registry of the Commission.


To formally provide documents to the other side. The Registrar is responsible for serving all documents filed, except a summons or appeal books.  You can ask at the Registry of the Commission about serving either of those documents.

Summons to Witness

A document issued by the Commission which requires a person to come to the Commission to give evidence and/or bring documents or other things to the Commission.

Sworn or Affirmed

When you have made a solemn promise to confirm the truth of your evidence. An affidavit must be sworn or affirmed before a justice of the peace, a notary public, a lawyer with sufficient experience, or a Commissioner for taking affidavits.

Contact Us

Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission
17th Floor
111 St Georges Terrace

Phone : (08) 9420 4444
Facsimile : (08) 9420 4500
Free Call : 1800 624 263

Free Fax :1800 804 987

Email : Registry


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