Statistics on the small number of cases that go to trial in WA

It is very interesting to get statistics about how only a small number of cases actually go to trial.

In the Department of Justice's Annual Report 2015/2016 the raw numbers are published for the Supreme Court of Western Australia and the District Court of Western Australia.

Only 51 civil cases went to trial in the Supreme Court, out of 2,964 cases that were finalised.

This means 98.25 % of cases were settled / discontinued etc and only 1.75 % went to trial.

Only 50 civil cases went to trial in the District Court, out of 4,948 cases that were finalised. 

This means 98.99 % of cases were settled / discontinued etc and only 1.01 % went to trial.

Similar statistics are not available online for the Magistrates Court of WA.

I have put together this spreadsheet, showing more detail.



Questions to ask before hiring a lawyer

You should ask these questions before hiring a lawyer.

Duplication of work

To avoid duplication of legal costs it is important to find out who will actually be doing the work.

  1. Will the Partner, or person you speak to on the first occasion, be getting a junior lawyer to do the work?
  2. Does this include Court appearances and mediations?
  3. How is the potential for duplication of legal costs, as a result, avoided?
  4. If the case goes to trial, or there are any contested hearings in the lead up to trial, will a barrister be hired too?
  5. How will any duplication of legal costs be avoided as a result of hiring a barrister?


It is important to know what legal experience the lawyer or lawyers doing the work have.

  1. How long have you been admitted as a lawyer? Have you done this type of work, before, and how frequently?
  2. How often do you appear in Court?
  3. If the matter is likely to be heard in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia, do you have experience in the Magistrates Court and in Magistrates Court procedure
  4. If the matter is likely to be heard in the District Court or Supreme Court of Western Australia, do you have experience in those Courts?
  5. What extra training have you done and do on an ongoing basis, relevant to the work I am engaging you to do?

Costs & advice

The most frustrating part of hiring a lawyer is the limited information available your future legal costs.

  1. On what basis are the costs estimates provided? Has a spreadsheet been used to do the estimates? Can the spreadsheet be made available?
  2. What is the method for providing advice? Is this provided in writing or orally or both? If both, what factor determines whether the advice is provided in writing vs orally?
  3. If we need to get in touch, can we send each other text messages to avoid wasted time leaving messages for each other, by telephone? Do you use Skype?
  4. Based on your experience, what % of costs in a case like this are recovered if we win? What am I getting from you for the "gap"?
  5. Do you charge anything extra for work done by secretaries and non-legal staff?
  6. Will you provide me options for work to be contracted out, including offshore? (This is such as in relation to preparation of list of documents for discovery)?
  7. If there is any need for a taxation of costs in relation to costs awarded during the course of the case, do you personally do the bill of costs and attend any hearing, or do you hire an external costs consultant?
  8. If I have questions about my bill, how do you make it easy for me to ask questions?
  9. Do you provide audio recordings of our meetings, at request? What about telephone conversations, as well?

Caveat disputes

Almost always, there is an urgency to a caveat dispute.

It is important to hire someone who has dealt with caveat disputes before.

If you are the person who has lodged a caveat on the title, you will receive a letter from the Registrar of Titles (Landgate), letting you know that you have a 21-day window of time in which to get a Supreme Court order for the extension of the operation of the caveat.

This means that any delay in the lawyer not being able to: 

  • quickly call upon previous documents drafted on previous matters, and
  • being immediately familiar with the applicable law,

could be costly, both in terms of legal bills, but also lost time.

Not only is there the need to act within time, but any time spent getting up to speed with the law and becoming familiar with the documents that are required, is less time spent thinking about the issues and getting to grips with what the Court needs to know specifically in this instance.

We have dealt with these applications many times before. We are able to quickly call upon documents used in previous matters as precedent documents.

Our experience gives us the insight into the relevant questions to ask you and how to quickly, and in a cost efficient way, get across the matter.

We also know how best to liaise with the staff at the Court to get an urgent hearing.

We do not have to hire a barrister, which can add to delay and duplication of costs, because we are personally experienced at doing this work as barristers in Court.