Our readers should note that Chief Justice William Alstergen of The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) has issued a Special Measures Information Notice – Hearing Protocol on 4 November 2022.
This new protocol revokes FCFCOA Practice Direction – COVID-19 Special Measures as of 7 November 2022. Of particular note is that parts 5.1 - 5.4 of the old practice direction will no longer apply meaning, for instance, that you can no longer file documents, which have been signed without a qualified witness.
The protocol confirms that the Courts will continue to use both in-person and electronic hearings depending if the judge is local or from another state. For instance, where a matter is listed for final hearing before an interstate or non-local Judge, the final hearing will be conducted electronically unless otherwise approved by the Chief Justice.
The new Hearing protocol confirms that most procedural hearings are to be conducted electronically including conciliation conferences.
All court documents should still be filed electronically through the Commonwealth Courts Portal or eLodgment. For documents that cannot be e-filed through the Portal, they may be filed by email, post, or in-person at the registry.
It is also noted that the Special Measures Information Notice – COVID-19 Electronic Subpoena Inspection continues to apply.
It appears that living with COVID-19 means that electronic appearances at procedural hearings, conciliation conferences as well as, in some cases, electronic appearances at final hearings are here to stay at least for the next few years.