On 1 September 2021, the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia will join together as one Court. This merger will include the introduction of various new administrative and practical changes.
In a recent media release the Court addressed the impending changes promising “a new Court that is innovative, fair and efficient and focuses on risk, responsiveness and resolution.”
One of the most significant changes for clients in that announcement is the introduction of the “National Contravention List”.
In our experience, one of the most common frustrations currently experienced by clients is the delays in the listing of contravention applications or ‘breaches’ of Court Orders and the often perceived lenient penalties for those contravening Orders. Upholding and communicating the seriousness and importance of complying with your Court Orders has been an issue with which the family law industry has struggled.
The Court has stated that the new list will act to “address the expectation that all parties will comply with orders of the Court, and that alleged breaches of court orders will be taken seriously and will be dealt with quickly.”
According to the media release the key objectives of the National Contravention List are:
- “to efficiently deal with Applications on a national basis in a timely, cost effective and safe way for all litigants,
- for Applications to be given a first return date within 14 days of filing,
- to ensure compliance with court orders by all parties,
- to impose appropriate penalties or sanctions where a contravention has been proved and where a party has failed to demonstrate they had a reasonable excuse for non-compliance with court orders,
- to proactively facilitate the resolution of underlying issues in disputes that lead to the filing of such applications,
- to triage appropriate matters to dispute resolution, and
- to be responsive to a party’s wishes to resolve matters without recourse to additional litigation.”
The introduction of this specialist list is promising news for parties seeking Court Orders or those whom have already obtained Final Orders. It will hopefully provide peace of mind that if current Orders are contravened that access to adequate remedies is more readily and quickly available.
For more information on the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court merger and the National Contraventions List see the Family Court Media Release link below:
If you are in need of Family Law advice please contact our experienced Family Law Team on (03) 9614 7111.