1. This practice direction applies to family law applications filed in the Brisbane, Parramatta, Adelaide and Melbourne registries of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (“the Court”).
  2. This practice direction sets out guiding principles for case management arrangements for cases that meet the definition of a Priority Property Pool under $500,000 Case (PPP500). All steps taken in proceedings before the Court in these cases, including commencing proceedings, should follow these principles.
  3. This practice direction takes effect from the date that it is issued and, to the extent practicable, applies to all PPP500 cases filed on or after 1 March 2020.
  4. The practice direction is to be read together with the:
    1. Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“Family Law Act”), and the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 (Cth) (“Federal Circuit Court Rules”) and the Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth) (“Family Law Rules”) (where applicable).
    2. The Guide for Practitioners and Parties in Priority Property Pool under $500,000 Cases.

Purpose

  1. The purpose of this practice direction is to achieve a just, efficient and timely resolution of PPP500 cases, at a cost to the parties that is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances of the case.
  2. The purpose will be achieved by identifying and narrowing the issues in dispute and assisting the parties to undertake:
    • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) at the earliest opportunity; and
    • where ADR is unsuccessful, providing an opportunity for a less adversarial trial or a hearing on the papers.

Requirements for a PPP500 case

  1. PPP500 Case” means a case where:
    • 3.1 The Initiating Application (Family Law) was filed in the Brisbane, Parramatta, Adelaide or Melbourne Registries after 1 March 2020 and invokes the jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia arising out of a matrimonial cause or de-facto financial cause pursuant to the Family Law Act; and
      1. the value of the net property of the parties (including superannuation interests) is (or appears to be) under $500,000; and
      2. there are no entities (such as a family trust, company, or self-managed superannuation fund) owned or in the effective control of either party that might require valuation or expert investigation; or
      3. the Court makes a declaration or notation that the case is designated as a PPP500 case.
    • 3.2 A case filed by way of an Initiating Application filed in Family Court of Australia in the Brisbane, Parramatta, Adelaide or Melbourne Registries after 1 March 2020, and transferred to the Federal Circuit Court may be designated as a PPP500 case.
    • 3.3 The following cases are not PPP500 cases:
      1. cases where parenting orders are sought;
      2. cases where parenting and financial (property and/or spousal maintenance or other financial) orders are sought together;
      3. Child support cases;
      4. Child maintenance cases;
      5. Contravention applications; and
      6. Enforcement applications.

Commencing a PPP500 case

  1. Pursuant to Rule 2.04 of the Federal Circuit Court Rules the PPP500 Financial Summary is an approved form for use in PPP500 cases.
  2. Elements of the Federal Circuit Court Rules are partially suspended for a PPP500 case. In particular, the requirement in Rule 4.05 of the Federal Circuit Court Rules to file an Affidavit and Financial Statement is waived until:
    1. the Court directs a party to file an Affidavit or Financial Statement; or
    2. ADR fails and directions requiring the filing of an Affidavit and Financial Statement are made for trial.
  3. A party seeking property orders where the net property of the parties (including superannuation interests) is (or appears to be) under $500,000 should commence proceedings with the filing of an Initiating Application (Family Law), and a PPP500 Financial Summary.
  4. Irrespective of whether a party identifies the case as a PPP500 case at the time of filing, the Court may designate a case a PPP500 case at any time including before a Response has been filed.
  5. Where the Court designates a case as a PPP500 case after proceedings commence, a direction may be made, by the Court, before the first court date, for the parties to file a PPP500 Financial Summary, exchange of financial documents, and related matters of practice and procedure.

Case Management of PPP500 cases

  • The procedural information and particulars to give effect to this Practice Direction are contained in the Guide for Practitioners and Parties in Federal Circuit Court Priority Property Pool under $500,000 Cases. The Guide and the PPP500 Financial Summary are available on the Court’s website.

THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE WILLIAM ALSTERGREN
CHIEF JUDGE
FEDERAL CIRCUIT COURT OF AUSTRALIA
DATE: 7 February 2020