ISSN: 1444–6707 (print version)
ISSN: 1447–5065 (online version)
© Commonwealth of Australia 2019
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Contact officer for annual report
National Communications Manager
Federal Court of Australia
GPO Box 9991 CANBERRA ACT 2601
Ph: +61 2 6267 0640
An electronic version of this report is available on the Federal Circuit Court website at: www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/annual-report
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:
Design and typesetting: Giraffe Visual Communication Management.
Printing: Elect Printing.
Letter of transmittal
Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts
305 William Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Mail: GPO BOX 9991, Melbourne VIC 3001
6 September 2019
The Honourable Christian Porter MP
Canberra ACT 2600
I am pleased to present the annual report on the operations of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for the financial year ending 30 June 2019, 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 (May 2019), but adjusted to reflect the changes in structure brought about by 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 2018–19 annual report. This is due to the Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016 that amended a number of Acts in order to adjust the courts’ governance structure to support shared 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 20th annual report.
[Signed in hard copy]
The Hon Justice Alstergren
Family Court of Australia
Federal Circuit Court of Australia
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 2019.
Prepared according to parliamentary reporting requirements, the report outlines the goals in the Court’s Portfolio Budget Statements and Corporate Plan and relates them 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 year in review - Highlights significant issues and initiatives the Court has undertaken during the reporting year as well as developments during 2018–19.
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 - 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 - Includes outcome and program statement, freedom of information data, information about committees and judicial activities, information required by other legislation and contact details.
Part 6 Indexes - Includes the list of requirements and alphabetical index.
Acronyms and abbreviations and a glossary of court-specific terminology are on pages iv–vi.
An electronic version of this annual report is available from the Court’s website at www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/annual-report.
Acronyms and abbreviations
- Administrative Appeals Tribunal
- Companion of the Order of Australia
- Australian Consumer Law
- Apprehended Domestic Violence Order
- Attorney-General’s Department
- Australian Human Rights Commission
- Australian Law Reform Commission
- Member of the Order of Australia
- Officer of the Order of Australia
- Australian Public Service
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission
- Australasian Legal Information Institute
- Creative Commons
- Commerce Clearing House
- Child Dispute Services
- Chief Executive Officer
- Continuing Professional Development
- Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
- Digital Court File
- Digital Court Program
- Enterprise Agreement
- Citation for all decisions of the Federal Circuit Court
- Freedom of Information
- Family Relationships Advice Line
- Fair Work Commission
- Intellectual Property
- Key Performance Indicator
- National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee
- National Enquiry Centre
- Medal of the Order of Australia
- Public Governance, Performance and Accountability
- Queens Counsel
- Reconciliation Action Plan
- Senior Counsel
Glossary of court-specific terms
A written statement by a party or witness. An affidavit is the main way of presenting the facts of a case to the Court.
An application to a higher court to review a decision of a lower court or tribunal.
A person who files an appeal with a court.
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.
The document that starts most proceedings in the Court.
The matter before the Court.
A place the Court regularly visits in rural and regional Australia.
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.
A system by which each case is allocated to a particular judge who generally manages the matter from commencement to disposition.
The procedure of electronically lodging a document through the Commonwealth Courts Portal.
The procedure of electronically lodging general federal law documents in the Federal Circuit Court.
The process of the Court accepting a document or documents lodged by a party to a proceeding.
An action or right against a specific person.
An action against certain property.
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 submissions. A judgment is said to be ‘ex tempore’ when the presiding judicial officer gives the judgment orally at the hearing or very shortly thereafter.
The extent of legal authority or power of the Court to apply the law.
Individuals, organisations or companies who/which are the parties to a proceeding before the Court.
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.
People involved in a court case. Applicants, respondents and defendants are generally called ‘parties’.
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.
The regular and orderly progression of a matter including all acts and events between the time of commencement and judgment.
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.
The Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulation 2012 and the Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012 which prescribe the filing and other fees that must be paid for proceedings in the Court.
A party to court proceedings against whom relief is claimed.
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.
A party to a matter who does not have legal representation and represents themselves before the Court.
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.