Tips For First Appearances

Federal Circuit Court of Australia Annual Report 2015-16

Per the Chief Judge: “The Court’s workload has steadily increased and the timely replacement of retiring judges is critical to the Court’s ability to deal with its workload. Additional judges are also needed to cope with increased jurisdiction, greater volume, and increasing length of trials.”

Per the Chief Judge;

“The Court’s workload has steadily increased and the timely replacement of retiring judges is critical to the Court’s ability to deal with its workload. Additional judges are also needed to cope with increased jurisdiction, greater volume, and increasing length of trials.”

Some data of interest in the family law jurisdiction;

Family law

Filings

Finalisations

 

2015-16

2014-15

2015-16

2014-15

Final orders

17,523

17,685

16,379

16,525

Interim orders

21,521

21,112

20,367

20,279

Divorce

44,098

45,593

43,445

43,132

Other

1,778

1,990

1,758

1,808

Total family law

84,920

86,380

81,949

81,744

 

The FCC has three judicial services key performance indicators (KPIs). It was observed that of the three KPIs, only one (resolving 70% of matters without a trial) was met. That is shown in the following table;

Judicial service KPIs

Actual performance

The time taken from filing to disposition of final order applications is less than 12 months in 90% of cases

In 2015-16, 70% of all final order applications in family law were completed within 12 months

The time taken for filing to disposition in all other applications is less than six months

In 2015-16, 89% of all applications were completed within six months

70% of all matters are resolved before trial

70% of matters were resolved before trial *

 

*What were the relevant circumstances for such resolution, lack of money, lack of judicial resources, intimation from the bench, directions for mediation, litigation fatigue ?

Two factors were noted to have contributed to this result,

  • firstly the diminished number of judicial officers and
  • secondly an influx of migration matters.

The Chief Judge is concerned that migration matters will cause a drain on the FCC moving forward (known as the “asylum legacy caseload”).  

Ninety-one percent of the FCC’s work is family law. “Although the family law workload has remained relatively stable in terms of the number of applications filed, research suggests that there is an increase in the proportion of families with complex needs involving violence, mental health and/or substance addiction or a co-occurrence of these risk factors who are appearing before the Court.” When one considers that 86% of all family law final order applications are filed in the FCC it is easy to identify the FCC as one of the busiest jurisdictions in Australia.

Forty-seven percent of all parenting applications filed in the Federal Circuit Court are referred to child protection authorities. (Note: The following FLC Review noted that little comes of these referrals)

As at June 2016 there are 17,239 pending final orders applications. The workload of judicial officers (excluding divorce) is;

  • Financial only – 34%
  • Children and financial – 12%
  • Children only – 53%
  • Other – 1%

In 2015-16 3362 judgments were settled into written format, of that there were 1479 family law judgments.

In 2015-16 4062 matters were referred to privileged conciliation conferences conducted by Registrars. Of those 37 % settled.

There seem to be no statistics collected upon private mediations however the statistics for private mediation sourced through the administered fund (i.e. the FCC out-sources to a private mediator) the higher settlement rate of 66% was achieved.

This author’s note – the industry standard for private mediations is closer to 80% or 1 in 4.

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