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Court Updates


(Posted 20/05/2022) Update on procedure in FCFCoA Newcastle

At a recent Court user meeting Newcastle Registry has announced the following, and you will see there is a link to a set of template trial directions.

Compliance and Readiness Hearings in Newcastle Registry

  • Judge Betts is the appointed Compliance and Readiness Judge for Newcastle Registry. The Compliance and Readiness Hearings will be held approximately every three weeks.  There is an effort to list as many matters as possible for final hearing with a focus on the legacy matters. Judge Betts requested that these draft Trial Directions for the Newcastle Registry be circulated to practitioners. If possible please circulate this before the first Compliance and Readiness Hearings due to be held this Friday 20 May 2022.
  • Matters will still be double listed and all dates except a single day here and there are currently full for all Judges in Newcastle for 2022. Judge Betts will also be running the Compliance and Readiness Hearings for Division 1 matters.
  • Legal representatives who appear should be fully appraised of all relevant matters. Agents are not recommended for this Court event.
  • There is a move away from the previous docket system.

Return to In Person Court Events

  • Interim Hearings will be held in person where possible at Judicial Officer’s discretion.  Commencing 23 May 2022, matters listed before Senior Judicial Registrar Clarke will proceed in person. Chambers will confirm whether a matter is proceeding in person or by Microsoft Teams prior to the hearing. If around 1-2 weeks prior to a hearing, confirmation has not been received, practitioners are requested to contact Chambers.
  • Newcastle matters listed before Senior Judicial Registrar Flintoff and Senior Judicial Registrar Fitzgerald will proceed by Microsoft Teams.
  • Judge Costigan’s interim hearings will be held remotely unless otherwise advised especially for Circuit matters (Armidale, Gosford, Coffs Harbour). Judge Betts, Judge Kearney and Judge Carty are hearing interim hearings in person unless otherwise advised.
  • Final Hearings will be held in person unless otherwise advised.
  • Family Dispute Resolution events will be held remotely.
  • If there are issues with an in person interim hearing, practitioners are requested to raise the issue with the Senior Judicial Registrar conducting the hearing if they wish to have it heard remotely - eg due to location of parties or practitioners.

Support Services and Legal Aid Duty Lawyers

  • The Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) Women’s support service is now back at the Court in person 5 days per week. The men’s support service is also available on request.
  • Legal Aid Duty Lawyers available by phone.

Subpoena inspection – future arrangements

  • Electronic access to electronic subpoena records will continue under the same conditions as currently exist including provision of undertaking for legal representative access.
  • Practitioners are requested to encourage all named parties/persons to produce documents to the Court electronically. There is significant processing time at the Registry if hard copies are produced.
  • Only ask for what is required when issuing subpoenas – check time frames needed and limit scope where possible.

Timeframes on processing of Applications for Consent Orders

  • There was a delay on the processing of Applications for Consent Orders post 1 September 2021 when the National team took over this role from Registries nationwide.  Demand was higher than anticipated. This has now been rectified with all Judicial Registrars and Deputy Judicial Registrars now taking on this role.
  • Currently the processing time is 3 weeks with a target of 4 weeks from date of filing for processing.
  • When filing AFCO, if there is an urgent date or time constraints, practitioners can upload a cover letter and note the urgency and identify the date a response is needed if possible. Those applications are dealt with manually.

The next Court User Group meeting is planned for October/November. If there are any items that practitioners wish to have added to the agenda, please let us know.

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