Letter of transmittal

5 September 2013

Attorney-General
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Attorney,

Federal Circuit Court of Australia 2012–13 Annual Report

I have pleasure in submitting the Annual Report of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013, in accordance with section 117 of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999, which requires that I provide you with a report of the management of the administrative affairs of the Court and the financial statements in respect of that financial year.

The report has been prepared in accordance with the Requirements for Annual Reports as approved by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit on 24 June 2013.

This is the Court’s 14th annual report.

Yours sincerely

John Pascoe AO CVO
Chief Judge

Reader’s Guide

The purpose of this report is to inform the Attorney-General, the Parliament, court clients and the general public about the performance of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in the financial year ending 30 June 2013.

Prepared according to parliamentary reporting requirements, the report outlines the goals in the Court’s Portfolio Budget Statements and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements and relates to the results achieved during the year to those goals. It provides information on the Court’s performance in relation to its stated outcome:

To provide the Australian community with a simple and accessible forum for the resolution of less complex disputes within the jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

PART 1: The Chief Judge’s year in review comprises the Chief Judge’s overview highlighting significant issues and initiatives the Court has undertaken during the reporting year as well as joint initiatives of the Federal Circuit Court, the Family Court and the Federal Court.

PART 2: Overview of the Court provides information about the Court, including its role, functions, changes to jurisdiction during 2012–13, rule amendments during 2012–13, and organisational structure.

PART 3: The work of the Court in 2012–13 reports on how the Court performed during the period against the outcome and the related program. The performance reports are based on the outcome and program framework and performance information in the 2012–13 Portfolio Budget Statements and 2012–13 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements for the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

PART 4: Management and accountability provides information on corporate governance, external and internal scrutiny, human resource management, financial management, purchasing, consultants and contract management, legal services, asset management and other activities relevant to the general administration of the Court.

PART 5: Financial statements for the year ending 30 June 2013 contains the audited financial statements for 2012–13.

PART 6: Appendices includes the resource statement, staffing profile, freedom of information data, information about committees and judicial activities, and contact details.

The following references will assist readers to locate information in the annual report:

  • Table of contents
  • List of requirements
  • Alphabetical index

An electronic version of this annual report is available from the Federal Circuit Court website (http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au).

Acronyms and abbreviations

AGD

Attorney-General’s Department

ABGR

Australian Building Greenhouse Rating

AIJA

Australasian Institute for Judicial Administration

AM

Member of the Order of Australia

ANAO

Australian National Audit Office

AO

Officer of the Order of Australia

APS

Australian Public Service

ATSI

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

ASIC

Australian Securities and Investments Commission

AWA

Australian Workplace Agreement

BCP

Business Continuity Plans

CCP

Commonwealth Courts Portal

CEI

Chief Executive Instructions

CEO

Chief Executive Officer

CLC

Commonwealth Law Courts

CMJ

Case Management Judge

CSSMG

Client Service Senior Manager’s Group

CPSU

Commonwealth and Public Sector Union

Cth

Commonwealth

EL

Executive Level of the Australian Public Service

ESS

Employee Self Service system

FAIM

Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management

FCA

Federal Court of Australia

FCC

Federal Circuit Court of Australia

FCoA

Family Court of Australia

FLC

Family Law Courts

FMA Act

Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997

FOI

freedom of information

GST

goods and services tax

HR

human resources

ICL

Independent Children’s Lawyers

ICT

Information, Communications and Technology

IT

information technology

NEC

National Enquiry Centre

NCoCM

National Coordinator of Case Management

PMDS

Performance Management Development System

PSM

Public Service Medal

QPILCH

Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House

SES

Senior Executive Service of the Australian Public Service

YEAG

Young Employees Advisory Group

Glossary of court-specific terms

Affidavit

A written statement by a party or witness. An affidavit is the main way of presenting the facts of a case to the Court.

Appeal

An application to a higher court to review a decision of a lower court or tribunal.

Applicant

The individual, organisation or corporation who/which applies to the Court to commence legal proceedings against another person or persons. Also known as ‘plaintiff’ in admiralty and corporations matters and in some other courts.

Application

The document that starts most proceedings in the Court.

Case

The matter before the Court.

Circuit

A place the Court regularly visits in rural and regional Australia.

Dispute resolution

Procedures and services to help resolve disputes before or during a court hearing without the need for a judicial decision. It may include mediation, conciliation or counselling.

Docket system

A system by which each case is allocated to a particular judge who generally manages the matter from commencement to disposition.

eLodgment

The procedure of electronically lodging general federal law documents in the Federal Circuit Court.

eFiling

The procedure of electronically lodging a document through the Commonwealth Courts Portal.

Filing

The process of the Court accepting a document or documents lodged by a party to a proceeding.

In personam

An action or right against a specific person.

In rem

An action against certain property.

Judgment

The final order or set of orders made by the Court after a hearing, often accompanied by reasons which set out the facts and law applied in the case. A judgment is said to be ‘reserved’ when the Court postpones the delivery of the judgment to a later date to allow the presiding judicial officer time to consider the evidence and submission. A judgment is said to be ‘ex tempore’ when the presiding judicial officer gives the judgment orally at the hearing or very shortly thereafter.

Jurisdiction

The extent of legal authority or power of the Court to apply the law.

Litigants

Individuals, organisations or companies who/which are the parties to a proceeding before the Court.

Orders

A court order is a document that sets out what the parties must do. Orders can be urgent, interim (temporary) or final. Courts usually have wide-ranging powers to make orders to enforce judgments.

Parties

People involved in a court case. Applicants, respondents and defendants are generally called ‘parties’.

Pro bono

Legal work performed without charge for litigants who cannot afford the cost of a lawyer and are not eligible for legal aid. Pro bono legal work is done at a substantially reduced rate or in some circumstances, at no cost.

Proceeding

The regular and orderly progression of a matter including all acts and events between the time of commencement and judgment.

Registrar

A court lawyer who has been delegated power to perform certain tasks on behalf of a judge; e.g. grant divorces, sign consent orders and determine the next step in a case.

Regulations

The Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulations 2012 and the Family Law Regulations 1984 which prescribe the filing and other fees that must be paid for proceedings in the Court.

Respondent

A party to court proceedings against whom relief is claimed.

Rules

Rules made by the judges that set out the procedures for conducting a proceeding in the Court. The rules of the Federal Circuit Court are the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 and the Federal Circuit Court (Bankruptcy) Rules 2006.

Self-represented litigant

A party to a matter who does not have legal representation and represents themself before the Court.

Supplementary document

Any document lodged against an existing cause of action that does not attract a fee and does not require follow up action by court staff once lodged.