In small claims matters, after the directions questionnaires have been filed at court, it will set a court hearing date for the trial to take place. It should take into account any dates you specified to avoid in the directions questionnaire.
The court hearing date might be months ahead.
What Should You Do If You Can’t Attend A Court Hearing Date?
It really depends on how early you know and whether you want to be there.
Option One – Apply To Court To Change The Court Hearing Date
This requires a court form to be sent to the court with a court fee. Some Judges will consider this type of request without a hearing but others may list a hearing so the Judge can hear both parties’ views. Technically, you are asking the court to exercise its powers under CPR 3.1(2)(b).
Before issuing the application, you should see if your opponent is happy for the trial date to be moved. The court is more likely to move it if you both agree.
You will need a good reason to move it as generally, the courts don’t like having to move a court hearing date.
Option Two – Tell The Court You Are Happy For The Hearing To Take Place Without You There
This option is set out in CPR 27.9. You need to give the court and your opponent at least seven days notice in writing that you won’t be attending. You also need to file and serve any witness statements and documents you want to rely upon at least seven days before the court hearing date.
Make sure you read CPR 27.9 and go through the steps set out.
Option Three – Just Don’t Turn Up
If you don’t turn up and haven’t served notice under CPR 27.9, the Judge can deal with the matter in your absence. However, he might just throw out your case so this is a risky approach.
If you don’t attend and you don’t like the order the Judge makes in your absence, you can apply to court to set the order aside under CPR 39.3(3). You need to deal with the points specified in CPR 39.3(5) in your application.
Option Four – See If Your Opponent Is Happy To Resolve The Matter Without A Hearing At All
The court can allow a matter to be decided on paper, if both you and your opponent are prepared to allow a Judge to decide it without a hearing at all. See CPR 27.10. It is up to the Judge to decide whether to allow this or not so get any request in early.
If you can’t attend or don’t want to attend, let the court know as soon as possible. It is risky to allow a court hearing to go ahead in your absence without letting the court know why you aren’t there.