Conferences and hearings are formal legal processes. Usually conferences are private and hearings are open to the public. You have a right to a fair hearing.
On this page:
A Commission Member leads conferences and hearings. They consider submissions and review evidence in the case.
Conferences and hearings have different aims.
The aim of your conference or hearing may be to:
- reach an outcome on the case ('matter') in your notice of listing
- progress the matter more generally.
The differences between conferences and hearings
The Member says what procedures ('protocols') will apply for your conference or hearing. The table has some typical protocols for conferences and hearings. Yours may be different.
Open to the public. Usually anyone can attend, including the media, family and friends.
Usually not open to the public. In most cases a support person, such as a family member or friend, can attend.
Held in a hearing room. People sit in formal positions in the hearing room.
Either held in a smaller hearing room or conference room. Everyone sits around the same table.
Formal. The Commission Member sits at the front of the room.
More informal and interactive. The Commission Member may sit at the bar table with the parties in a hearing room, or around a large table in a conference room.
The parties give evidence from the witness box.
The parties give evidence from the table.
Different types of conference
A conference can be 1 of 2 types:
- A 'preliminary' or 'case management' conference is where we gather information and explore the best way to approach a case
- A 'determinative' conference is a legal proceeding. The 2 sides in a case may give evidence or bring witnesses. The Member decides if the Commission should make an order. This type of conference is most common in unfair dismissal cases.
Conferences may also be held in other types of case. In these conferences, the Commission may mediate, conciliate, make a recommendation, or express an opinion.
Your hearing or conference may take place online rather than in person. This is more common when dealing with ‘preliminary’ or ‘case management issues’.
We will tell you if your matter will be online or in-person. You will have an opportunity to comment on the format of your case.
The Member dealing with your case will send you a notice of listing. This will include important information about your matter, including how to attend online. You should read it before the hearing or conference
A Commission Member holds an online hearing. It is a formal legal proceeding. You must conduct yourself appropriately. See standards of behaviour for more information.
A Member may ask you to provide your contact details before the hearing. You should also provide contact numbers for other attendees. This includes witnesses or support persons.
Online proceedings follow our Interim framework. We have developed a guide to use when you attend online hearings.
The framework and the guide cover:
- when an online proceeding might be appropriate,
- how to behave during the proceeding
- how to prepare for your online proceeding.
These documents are available below:
The following guides provide you with technical information. They may assist you in using the software and preparing for your online hearing:
Length of conference or hearing
On average a determinative conference or hearing is scheduled for between half a day - 3 days, however it will depend on the case and how complex it is.
The Notice of Listing will say how many days have been allocated for the case.
Sensitive or confidential evidence
If a hearing involves sensitive or confidential evidence, the Commission Member may:
- order a private or part-private hearing
- restrict who can come to the hearing
- not allow publication of the names and addresses of people at the hearing
- not allow the publication of evidence or its disclosure to people at the hearing.