What is a hearing?
A hearing is where the Tribunal hears and determines the substance of the issues in dispute. Hearings are more formal than conciliation conferences and involve the Tribunal receiving arguments and evidence from both parties before making a binding decision on a matter. This usually takes place in a room that is similar to a court room. There are two types of hearings: interlocutory or preliminary hearings and substantive hearings.
Interlocutory or preliminary hearings
There may be issues that have to be determined by the Tribunal before the merits or substance of an application can be dealt with. These preliminary (or interlocutory) matters may relate to an issue with an applicant’s claim that needs to be resolved before the rest of the matter can proceed, such as an application for discovery of documents.
Some examples of preliminary issues include:
- whether the Tribunal has jurisdiction to deal with the application; or
- whether the dispute lodged with the Tribunal was lodged within the prescribed time.
There may be one or more interlocutory hearings before the substantive hearing to deal with preliminary or procedural issues.
A directions hearing is similar to a preliminary hearing, and is where the Tribunal will set out how the matter will progress. This can include setting out a timeline for when things ought to occur such as discovery, or when things are to be filed with the Tribunal, such as outlines of submissions or witness statements.
A substantive hearing is where the Tribunal hears and determines the substance or merits of the issues in dispute.