A new regime of civil court procedure in New South Wales was introduced by the enactment of the Civil Procedure Act 2005 and the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules. The object of this Act and Rules, re-enacting as a statute the overriding purpose first adopted as a rule of the Supreme Court, is to “facilitate the just, quick and cheap resolution of the real issues in the proceedings”. Over the years numerous practices have developed to guide judges in achieving this overriding purpose.

The function of this Bench Book is to provide guidance for judicial officers in the conduct of civil proceedings, from preliminary matters to the conduct of final proceedings and the assessment of damages and costs. The Bench Book does not seek to be encyclopaedic, but to provide concise statements of relevant legal principles, references to legislation, sample orders for judicial officers to use where suitable and checklists applicable to the various kinds of issues that arise in the course of managing and conducting civil litigation.

The authors of the Bench Book have striven to ensure that the sample orders they suggest are in accordance with the law and are easily understood and unambiguous. These orders are provided by way of guidance only and any judicial officer is free to depart from the suggested order as he or she thinks fit, provided the orders are given are in accordance with the law. Failure to make an order in accordance with the suggested form should not, of itself, be regarded as a ground of appeal.

The Civil Trials Bench Book is a work in progress. New chapters will be added as they are prepared and the Bench Book will be updated regularly. The Judicial Commission welcomes comments as to the scope and content of this Bench Book, with a view to ensuring that it effectively performs its task in the administration of civil trials.

The Civil Trials Bench Book has been prepared for use by judicial officers in New South Wales. It constitutes a major contribution by the Judicial Commission of New South Wales to the administration of justice of this State. I congratulate and thank the members of the Committee who produced the work, under the Chairmanship of the Honourable James Wood AO QC.


The Honourable JJ Spigelman AC
Chief Justice of New South Wales