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Core Principles in the Case Management of Family Law Matters

Family Law

On 28 January 2020, a statement was released by The Honourable Justice William Alstergren, the joint Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The purpose of this statement was to explain the 10 core principles that characterise the practice of Family Law within Australia. At Mahony Family Lawyers we have considered the core principles and note the following:

  1. Risk

It is vital to identify risks to the safety of children, vulnerable parties and litigants, and to prioritise the management and minimisation of such risks.

  1. Parties’, lawyers’ and the Court’s obligations and overarching purpose

The overarching purpose is the ‘just, safe, efficient and timely resolution of matters.’ This means that matters are to be finalised as quickly and cost effectively as possible, whilst ensuring attention is paid to the likely impact of proceedings on families and children.

  1. Efficient and effective use of resources

The Courts’ resources are to be used to achieve the overarching purpose of the Court in the context of ensuring the appropriate handling of risks. This includes the Courts’ judicial, registrar and family consultant resources.

  1. Approach to case management

Three factors were identified in effective case management. They are:

  1. a consistent approach to the case management of like-cases;
  2. early triaging of matters to an appropriate case pathway, including assessment of risk;
  3. the use of both internal and external Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), including private mediation, family dispute resolution, conciliation conferences and arbitration in property disputes for as many appropriate cases as possible.
  1. Importance of Alternative Dispute Resolution

ADR is important and is to be encouraged by the Court. All parties are expected to make a genuine effort to resolve their matter, and the Court is, in most circumstances, not to hear a matter unless parties have made such an effort.

  1. Cost consequences for failure to comply with orders

It is important that parties comply with Court orders. If they do not, they may have to pay a monetary penalty in consequence. This extends to solicitors.

  1. Lawyers’ obligations about costs

Solicitors are required to run their client’s case sensibly and inform their client about the likely costs they may incur. Solicitors and their clients are required to try to minimise these costs.

  1. Identifying and narrowing issues in dispute

Parties are required to disclose to the Court and the other party all information relevant to their case, so that the Court can determine the issues that are in dispute. Parties are expected to negotiate, not unreasonably agitate issues, and to narrow issues that are in dispute wherever possible.

  1. Preparation for hearings

Parties and their solicitors are to be prepared for Court events and know the issues in dispute, the length of time a matter will run at final hearing, and the number of witnesses required for cross-examination.

  1. Efficient and timely disposition of Cases

The Court will act effectively and efficiently in achieving the prompt and fair disposition of cases. This may mean, where permitted, short form reasons will be delivered in appropriate cases to facilitate the expeditious delivery of judgments.

At Mahony Family Lawyers we are always working to ensure the efficient resolution of your legal matter. Our team is focussed on thorough preparation, clear communication and bringing practical thinking to the resolution of your matter.