A “first directions hearing” is heard some time shortly before a trial. They are generally heard either at 9 am or 9.30 depending on the Judge involved.
They do not take very long in Court time.
The first directions hearing in a sexual offence trial is mainly aimed at case management to make sure that everything is going along on track.
A directions hearing enables the Court, amongst other things, to check that witnesses are available and that the accused has funds in place to pay for their representation. People can raise preliminary issues that they think will effect the duration of the trial or other issues.
The Judge will make any necessary orders or directions relating to the case.