A pre-trial directions hearing is a short court appearance where orders are made about what should happen next in a case, and any procedural matters are addressed. It alerts the parties to the commencement of the action and may also direct them to alternative dispute resolution.
A registrar or judge will usually preside over the hearing, depending on the jurisdiction. The orders made in a pre-trial directions hearing often have the aim of reducing the cost and length of proceedings. The court may make a range of orders, including:
- Creating a timetable for filing and serving further pleadings, or exchanging affidavit evidence and witness statements, or exchanging expert reports, or filing and service of written submissions
- The making of admissions
- Filing of a list of documents and supplying those documents to all relevant parties
- Using telephone and video conferencing technology
- Deciding the form of evidence admissions