Parties in an application to protect a vulnerable adult (VA) must first attend a court mention.
If the parties cannot resolve the matter during the mention, the case will proceed to a hearing at a later date. This will be before a judge, who will decide the outcome of the application.
Find out about what happens:
Both the applicant and the respondent must attend all the court sessions.
The Family Courts will inform you of the date, time and venue of your court session in the following ways:
For the first mention
For the hearing
You can make an application to change the court date through the Integrated Family Application Management System (iFAMS). You must request at least 5 working days in advance and include supporting documents.
If the court grants your request, a new date will be arranged. Otherwise, you are required to attend the court session as scheduled.
The VA may wish to have a family member or friend accompany them to the court. If no one is able to accompany them, they may discuss with the court family specialists at the Family Protection Centre for alternative arrangements, such as attending via video conference instead.
The VA may also apply for other forms of assistance. Find out where to get help.
If you are asked to attend court physically, you should:
At the first mention, the relevant court officer will inform the respondent of the allegations made against them in the VA application.
What happens next depends on whether the respondent consents to the application.
If the respondent admits partially or fully to the allegations and consents to the application, the court may make a protective order for the VA if the court is satisfied with both of the following:
Depending on the nature of the case, the court may also order one or both parties to attend counselling or other court-directed programmes.
If the respondent does not consent to the application, the court may refer both parties to attend a counselling session or family conference with a court family specialist.
This may be on the same day. If there are no slots available on the same day, the session will take place on another date.
If the court does not refer the parties for counselling or if there is no resolution after the counselling session, the court may arrange for subsequent mentions or case conferences to give directions to the parties to prepare the case for a hearing.
The court may direct you and the other party to exchange documents and other evidence. The court will schedule a hearing date after the court is satisfied that parties are ready for the hearing.
At the hearing, both parties get the chance to present their case to a judge. You (or your lawyer, if any) will need to present your case:
If you are the applicant
You and your witnesses will present your case first. Both you and your witnesses can be questioned by the respondent on what you presented.
If you are the respondent
You and your witnesses will present your case after the complainant has done so. Both you and your witnesses can be questioned by the applicant on what you presented.
The judge will make a decision after both parties have presented their respective cases.
The court may grant a protective order if the court is satisfied with both of the following:
Depending on the nature of the case, the court may also order one or both of the parties to attend counselling or other court directed programmes.
The court may also choose to dismiss the case and not make a protective order if there are no valid grounds (reasons) for the order.
If the respondent does not comply with the court order, the applicant may report the matter to the police.
The breach of a protective order is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, an imprisonment term of up to 12 months, or both. A subsequent offence is punishable by a fine of up to $8,000, an imprisonment term of up to 18 months, or both.
If you are not satisfied with the court's decision, you may appeal to the Family Division of the High Court by filing a Notice of Appeal.
You need to file and serve the notice within 14 days from the date the order was made.
You must also provide security for the other party’s costs of the appeal. This will cost $3,000. Find out more about appeals.
During the next court session (mention or hearing), you must inform the judge of your intent to withdraw. The court will direct you on what to do.
If the vulnerable adult (VA) has the mental capacity to decide on the application, the court will invite the VA to attend.
If the VA has been assessed to lack mental capacity (such as suffering from severe dementia, in which case the application is made by another person on their behalf), then it is unlikely that the court will invite the VA to attend.