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ISSN 1444–6707 (print version)

ISSN 1447–5065 (online version)

© Commonwealth of Australia 2015

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If you would like to comment on this annual report, or have any queries, please contact:

Family Law Courts National Communication
Federal Circuit Court of Australia
GPO Box 9991
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Fax: +61 2 6243 8737
Email: communication@familylawcourts.gov.au

Alternative formats

An electronic version of this report is available on the Federal Circuit Court website at: http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/reports-and-publications/annual-reports/

The online version contains links to the 2014–15 Attorney-General's Portfolio Budget Statements.


This report reflects the efforts of many people. Special thanks go to the Court staff involved in contributing and coordinating material, as well as the following specialist contractors:

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Letter of transmittal

Image of letter of transmittal - see text of letter below

2 September 2015


Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600


Dear Attorney,

Federal Circuit Court of Australia 2014-15 Annual Report

I have pleasure in submitting the Annual Report of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for the period 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015, 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 Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's Requirements for Annual Reports.

This is the Court's 16th annual report.

Yours sincerely,

[signed in hard copy]

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 2015.

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 2014–15 rule amendments during 2014–15, and organisational structure.

PART 3: The work of the Court in 2014–15 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 2014–15 Portfolio Budget Statements and 2014–15 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 2015 contains the audited financial statements for 2014–15.

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—page IV
  • List of requirements—page 262
  • Alphabetical index—page 267

An electronic version of this annual report is available from the Federal Circuit Court website at http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/reports-and-publications/annual-reports/

Acronyms and abbreviations

AAT Administrative Appeals Tribunal
AFCC Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
AGIMO Australian Government Information Management Office
AIJA Australasian Institute for Judicial Administration
ALRC Australian Law Reform Commission
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
AUSLII Australasian Legal Information Institute
AFSA Australian Financial Security Authority
AWA Australian Workplace Agreement
BSDO Business System Development Officer
CALD Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
CCP Commonwealth Courts Portal
CDS Child Dispute Services
CEO Chief Executive Officer
CLC Commonwealth Law Courts
CMAG Chief Executive Officer's Management Advisory Group
COMP Court Ordered Mediation Program
CSSMG Client Service Senior Manager's Group
DHS Department of Human Services
EIU Early Intervention Unit
EL Executive Level of the Australian Public Service
EMS environmental management system
ESD ecologically sustainable development
FAIM Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management
FCA Federal Court of Australia
FCC Federal Circuit Court of Australia
FCCA Citation for all decisions of the Court
FCoA Family Court of Australia
FLPN Family Law Pathways Network
FLSS Family Law Settlement Service
FOI freedom of information
GST goods and services tax
HR Human Resources
IAA Immigration Assessment Authority
IACA International Association for Court Administration
ICL Independent Children's Lawyers
ICT Information, Communications and Technology
KPI Key Performance Indicator
MRT Migration Review Tribunal
NAIDOC National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee
NLA National Legal Aid
NEC National Enquiry Centre
NSO National Support Office
PBS Portfolio Budget Statements
PGPA Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
PSM Public Service Medal
PMDS Performance Management and Development System
QPILCH Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House
RAP Reconciliation Action Plan
RRT Refugee Review Tribunal
SES Senior Executive Service of the Australian Public Service
SFC Senior Family Consultant
SSAT Social Security Appeals Tribunal
WAN Wide Area Network
WCAG Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

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.
Appellant A person who files an appeal with a court.
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.