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The purpose of directions conferences is to make sure that the Inquiry is conducted fairly and expeditiously (s80(6) of the Anti-Discrimination Act).

At the directions conference procedural matters will be considered before the Inquiry can start.

Examples:

  • applications by parties to be legally represented at the Inquiry
  • applications for a suppression order or a closed Inquiry

Direction types

The Tribunal Member will also make directions requiring the parties to prepare information about their case and disclose some information to the Tribunal and the other party about their case.

Typical directions:

  • that the parties must each prepare a list of the documents that they want the Tribunal to take into account at the Inquiry
  • that the parties must each prepare documents summarising the evidence that the parties and the witnesses will give

Once these directions have been complied with, the parties will be ready to proceed with their case, and also will be aware of the substance of the case to be presented by the other side.

Note: the parties will be given time to attend to these matters and will have the opportunity to inform the Tribunal how much time they need.

Raising issues prior to inquiry

Directions conferences are also an opportunity for the parties to raise issues that they need to have considered by the Tribunal before the Inquiry starts.

Examples:

  • notices requiring witnesses to attend or produce documents at the Inquiry
  • the use of video link or other facilities
  • legal issues that can properly be decided before the Inquiry starts

Lawyer representation

Many parties are not legally represented. Directions conferences are relatively informal and have been designed to be straight forward.

Video link or phone participation 

In order to take part in a directions conference by telephone or video link, you should write to the Registrar to request that and provide a telephone number where you can be contacted (not a mobile telephone number).

Note: if the telephone or video link is organised at the initiative of the Tribunal then there is no cost. However, if you request a telephone or video link then the Tribunal may require you to pay the cost of the telephone call or video link.

If you wish to have a person accompany you at the directions conference then you may attend the conference with that person and at the beginning of the conference request the Tribunal Member to allow your request.

If at any time during a directions conference or Inquiry you do not understand an aspect of the proceedings then you may request clarification or ask for time to consider your position.