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A mention hearing refers to the first listing of an application in court. Applications may be dealt with on the mention date but are often adjourned to a later date for a further mention. Therefore, a mention can also refer to a second or subsequent listing.
Interim Accommodation Order Contest
On occasions a case is commenced when a child is taken into emergency care and an application is filed with the court immediately (or as soon as possible). If the parties involved are unable to resolve the issue of where the child should live in the short term a contest hearing may be required. A contest hearing regarding the short term placement of the child (an interim accommodation order contest) will sometimes be conducted immediately by submissions i.e. arguments made to the court usually by the legal representatives involved without evidence being heard. Interim accommodation order contest hearings can also be conducted on a later date to enable witnesses to be called and other evidence to be provided rather than relying on submissions only. It depends upon the circumstances of each case as to whether a ‘submissions’ contest or an ‘evidence’ contest is held.
If it has been indicated by the parties at a mention hearing that an application is to be contested (i.e. no agreement can be reached) the application will usually be adjourned and listed for a conciliation conference. A conciliation conference is conducted by a specially appointed convenor and involves the parties and their legal representatives. Sometimes contested issues are resolved by agreement at the dispute resolution conference and provided that the court accepts the agreement, there will be no need to proceed to a contest hearing.
A directions hearing is held approximately two weeks prior to a contest hearing. At a directions hearing the court makes enquiries of the parties to inform itself of the issues in dispute and to establish if those issues are able to be resolved. If, at the directions hearing, the case is able to be resolved the court will make an appropriate order regarding the child and the case can be finalised that day. The contest hearing will then be cancelled. If the case is unable to be resolved at the directions hearing it will be adjourned to a contest hearing.
A contest is a hearing in which the court deals with the issues in dispute between the parties. Evidence is presented and witnesses are called and the court makes its decision at the conclusion of the hearing. Sometimes, after all the evidence is heard, the case is adjourned to a later date to allow the court sufficient time to fully consider the evidence and prepare a decision.