You know the “drill”, you’ve done it a “million times” . You’ve attended the same court, the same court lists, the same procedures, the same judge same…same….same AND its only a mention or an interim/interlocutory application, done it ALL before. Do you still need to prepare prior to attending any court appearance? Is it a waste of time and money to allocate some time to preparation? Do you want to look like this guy in Court?
There is no substitute for preparation. People who attempt to present a case in Court, even a mention, without taking the time to prepare are either in the category of Albert Einstein, sheer geniuses, or just plain lazy and this attitude and practice translates to ineffective, inefficient and below par advocacy. Remember that intelligent people are smart enough to know the value of preparation and the risks associated with presenting a case, with little or no preparation, even at a mention.
The basics of preparation in a mention or interim/interlocutory application, include the following:
- Check the jurisdiction of the court and its power
- Check the UCPR and any other relevant court specific rules in relation to the application
- Is there a relevant practice note either on the area of the court or the subject matter?
- Review the file prior and get an understanding of the facts, issues in dispute, the parties and the history of the matter
- If you have trouble understanding any aspect of the file, speak to the lawyer who assigned you to appear so that you do understand prior to attending court
- What is the purpose of your appearance? What Orders are you seeking? Are they possible?
- Get instructions from your client and if they are required to attend, organise the time and location for attendance, including instructing the client about dress codes
- On the day prior to your appearance, check the court lists so you know what court you need to attend and arrive 10-15 mins earlier than the listed time so you can introduce yourself to your opponent and discuss with him/her any issues that you agree upon and still outstanding for the court to decide upon and ultimately make orders.
- Be sure to write down the orders made at each court appearance.
There are many other issues such as how to announce your appearance, how to handle questions from the bench, how to organise future court dates with the opponent, what do you say when your matter is finished, do you have to be aggressive to try to get what you want?
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