11. What will happen at the first hearing?
The strict rules of evidence that apply in most other courts are not rigidly adhered to in Tribunal hearings. Neither party can be legally represented.
Both parties must attend the first hearing, which is conducted in a courtroom. If the Claimant is absent, then the Tribunal may strike out (decline) the claim. If the Defendant is absent, then judgment may be entered if the claim has been served and the Claimant can prove the case.
The Presiding Officer will explain the issues and the relevant laws in an attempt to help the parties settle amicably. Any terms of settlement that are reached before the Tribunal Officer will be signed by both parties and submitted to the Presiding Officer for approval.
If the parties cannot settle their dispute amicably, then the Presiding Officer will tell them whether they need to submit further documentary evidence. The Presiding Officer may order this evidence to be submitted to the Tribunal Officer within a specified period.
If the case is ready and the issues are simple, then the Presiding Officer may conduct the trial immediately at or after the first hearing and deliver judgment the same day.