ISSN: 1444–6707 (print version)
ISSN: 1447–5065 (online version)
© Commonwealth of Australia 2017
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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 2016–17 Attorney-General's Portfolio Budget Statements.
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Letter of transmittal
12 September 2017
Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Federal Circuit Court of Australia 2016-17 Annual Report
I have pleasure in submitting the Annual Report of the Federal Circuit Court Court of Australia for the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, in accordance with Section 117 of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999.
This report has been prepared in accordance with the Department of Finance’s Resource Management Guide No. 135: annual reports for non-Corporate Commonwealth Entities, but adjusted to reflect the changes in structure brought about by the commencement of the Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016.
A report on the provision of corporate services and the financial statements are included as part of the Federal Court of Australia’s 2016–17 annual report. This is due to the Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016 which amended a number of Acts in order to adjust the courts’ governance structures to support shared corporate services and bring the courts into a single administrative entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and a single statutory agency under the Public Service Act 1999.
This is the Court’s 18th annual report.
[Signed in the hard copy]
John Pascoe AC CVO
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 2017.
Prepared according to parliamentary reporting requirements, the report outlines the goals in the Court’s Portfolio Budget Statements and Corporate Plan 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:
Apply and uphold the rule of law for litigants in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia through more informal and streamlined resolution of family law and general federal law matters according to law, through the encouragement of appropriate dispute resolution processes and through the effective management of the administrative affairs of the Court.
PART 1: The Chief Judge’s overview highlighting significant issues and initiatives the Court has undertaken during the reporting year as well as developments during 2016–17.
PART 2: Overview of the Court provides information about the Court, including its role, functions, organisational structure, appointments and retirements and court service locations.
PART 3: The work of the Court in 2016–17 reports on how the Court performed during the period against the outcome and related program.
PART 4: Management and accountability provides information on corporate governance and judicial and collaborative committees.
PART 5: Appendices include the 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
An electronic version of this annual report is available from the Federal Circuit Court website (http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au).
Acronyms and abbreviations
- Administrative Appeals Tribunal
- Australian Association of Women Judges
- Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
- Australian Financial Security Authority
- Association of International Family Judges
- Australasian Institute for Judicial Administration
- Member of the Order of Australia
- Australian National Audit Office
- Officer of the Order of Australia
- Australian Public Service
- Australasian Legal Information Institute
- Australian Workplace Agreement
- Business Systems Development Officer
- Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
- Commerce Clearing House
- Commonwealth Courts Portal
- Child Dispute Services
- Chief Executive Officer
- Continuing Learning Education
- Commonwealth Law Courts
- Court Network
- Court Ordered Mediation Program
- Client Services Senior Managers Group
- Department of Human Services
- Early Intervention Unit
- Executive Level of the Australian Public Service
- environmental management system
- ecologically sustainable development
- Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management
- Federal Court of Australia
- Federal Circuit Court of Australia
- Citation for all decisions of the Court
- Family Court of Australia
- Family Law Practitioners Association
- Family Law Pathways Network
- Family Law Settlement Service
- freedom of information
- goods and services tax
- Human Resources
- Immigration Assessment Authority
- International Association for Court Administration
- Independent Children's Lawyers
- information and communications technology
- Key Performance Indicator
- Law Association for Asia and the Pacific
- Migration Review Tribunal
- National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee
- National Enquiry Centre
- National Legal Aid
- Portfolio Budget Statements
- Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
- Performance Management and Development System
- Queensland Law Society
- Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House
- Reconciliation Action Plan
- Refugee Review Tribunal
- Senior Executive Service of the Australian Public Service
- Senior Family Consultant
- 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.
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 Regulation 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 2016.
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.