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Chief Justice: New case management model integral to court merger

A new case management model would be integral to the success merged Federal Circuit and Family Courts, according to the jurisdiction’s chief.

Chief Justice Will Alstergren said the new case management model would see an increased involvement of senior registrars, registrars and family consultants early in the process to undertake the triage and case management of all matters filed.

“As far as possible, duty lists will be conducted by registrars and interim hearings will be conducted by senior registrars, which is designed to alleviate the front-end case management burden on judges and ensure that they are able to hear and determine trials and deliver judgments in the matters that require judicial attention as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said.

“In the general course, matters filed in the new court will follow a nationally consistent case pathway.”

The proposed pathway for matters is:

  • The first court event is to take place within six to eight weeks of filing.
  • Parties should be at mediation or dispute resolution within five to six months of filing before they have spent too much money on costs and have become too entrenched in the system. If they are still unable to settle, they will be sent to trial which is to commence where possible within 12 months.
  • These steps are aimed at resolving up to 90% of cases within 12 months, which will be a substantial improvement.

To facilitate these changes the Commonwealth Government has provided more than $100 million in new funding.

The courts have undertaken a recruitment drive to secure the services of family law practitioners. The number of judges has also been increased to the highest ever number of Division 2 (or Federal Circuit Court) judges and the highest number of Division 1 (or Family Court) judges since 2007. The new court will have 111 judges, including 90 specialist family law judges.

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