The IHP hearings process
Step 3: Pre-hearing meeting
- A pre-hearing meeting is the first step in the process to clarify and resolve issues before a hearing takes place. The purpose of the meeting is to agree what the issues are and how they will be dealt with.
- The issues and the proposed pathways are set out in the Parties and Issues report for the hearing topic (see step 2).
- If you decide to attend the pre-hearing meeting you will be asked to say what you disagree with in the Parties and Issues report. The pre-hearing meeting is an opportunity to confirm your issues and discuss other ways to deal with them.
- Pre-hearing meetings are open to members of the public (including the media) to attend although only the submitters have the right to speak.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need to attend the pre-hearing meeting?
If you agree with the Parties and Issues report (see step 2) you do not need to come to the pre-hearing meeting.
However, you may still need to provide information to the hearing administrator before the pre-hearing meeting to:
- Register your expert witnesses, if you have any;
- Apply for extra speaking time at the hearing;
- Request a reallocation of a submission point to a different topic (if you think your submission point has been allocated to the wrong hearing topic).
- Use the "Submitter Information Form" under "Hearing Schedule Documents" on the hearings page to do any of these tasks. Return it to the hearing administrator by the RSVP date for the pre-hearing meeting.
Who is an expert?
Experts are people who are recognised in their field for having expertise either through qualifications or experience.
The Panel will decide who can appear as an expert. The experts will be confirmed in the Parties and Issues report after the pre-hearing meeting.
Please note that the Panel will only accept “expert evidence” from someone qualified to be an expert and who is also independent. This means that if you are a submitter on the Plan your evidence will not be considered "expert" because you will not be seen as independent.
Please note that submitters do not need to have an expert witness to take part in the hearings.
How will I know about a pre-hearing meeting?
If you have said on your submission that you wish to be heard, you will receive a notice of the meeting with a link to the Parties and Issues Report at least ten working days before the pre-hearing meeting. You can also check the details of any pre-hearing meetings on the hearings page.
What do I do at a pre-hearing meeting?
If you decide to attend the pre-hearing meeting you will be asked to say what you disagree with in the Parties and Issues report and give your views on the process for hearing your issues.
If someone else is coming to the pre-hearing meeting to represent you, please make sure they have full authority to act on your behalf.
It may be useful to have a copy of your submission and any other information that supports your submission. This can include any notes from other meetings that you may have had with other parties (including council officers).
How will a pre-hearing meeting be run?
Although not as formal as a public hearing, there will be an agenda and there will be a Chair who will run the meeting. The Chair will be a member of the Panel or someone appointed by the Panel. A record will be kept of the discussion and any decisions and actions agreed to.
Most pre-hearing meetings will be held at level 16, 205 Queen Street, Central Auckland. Meetings with a large number of people may be held at other locations. Your notice of the pre-hearing meeting will tell you the date, time and where it will be held.
If you have any questions about a pre-hearing meeting please contact the hearing administrator whose name and contact details will be in your notice.
What happens after a pre-hearing meeting?
When the pre-hearing meeting has finished, the Chair will prepare a report of the outcomes of the meeting. This report will be available on the hearings page as soon as possible after the pre-hearing meeting. The Parties and Issues report will be updated to show what happened at the meeting.
If there are other steps before the hearing (e.g. mediation) you will be contacted by the panel office to invite you to attend.
What is expert conferencing?
Some hearing topics will have an expert conference scheduled.
An expert conference is a meeting for the expert witnesses who have been engaged (by you or other submitters) to clearly identify the facts and relevant expert opinions and whether or not they can be agreed upon.
An expert conference involves experts providing independent technical advice in a meeting that does not involve other parties or the public. In these meetings the experts do not represent the views of any parties. However the experts can report back to the parties who have engaged them.
The outcomes of an expert conference can help the Independent Hearings Panel (the Panel) to understand the issues to be heard. The Panel makes its decisions after any hearing - the decisions do not get made at an expert conference.When will expert conferences occur?
Expert conferences will usually take place before the formal hearing session. However the Panel could direct an expert conference to resolve a specific issue that comes up during the hearing. The Parties and Issues report will show if an expert conference has been proposed as a step in the hearing process. The panel office will contact the experts to let them know the date, time and location of the expert conference.
You will need to provide the panel office with the details of your expert witnesses using the form on the website. The pre-hearing notices will tell you how to do this.
It is important that you provide this information by the due date or your experts may not be included in the expert conference.Who will attend an expert conference?
Only the registered experts will attend an expert conference. A facilitator will be appointed by the Panel to run the conference. Panel members and staff do not attend expert conferences.
An expert conference is a confidential meeting and will not be open to the public (including media) to attend. This is so that matters can be talked about openly by the people involved and, if needed, that information can be shared that the parties would only share in confidence.How will an expert conference be run?
Before the expert conference the facilitator will ask each expert to prepare a summary of what they will be presenting as evidence at the hearing. The summary briefly states their opinion on the matters for discussion at the expert conference and how they arrived at that opinion – the key facts, methods and standards used.
The facilitator will run the conference in a fair and professional manner, keeping to time frames and allowing all parties the chance to have their say.What happens after an expert conference?
At the completion of each conference a joint statement of agreed outcomes will be reported to the Panel. See the Revised Hearings Procedures document on the our process page for more information about a joint statement.
The joint statement from the expert conference will be made available on the hearings page.
Before the hearing the Parties and issues report will be updated to show the outcome of the expert conference.