On 28 January 2020 a new practice Direction was issued by the Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia / Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia setting out 10 Core Principles to underpin Family Law matters in those Courts. These are in summary:
- The prioritisation of the safety of children, vulnerable parties and litigants in managing risk and family violence;
- The overarching purpose to ensure the just, safe, efficient and timely resolution of matters at a cost to the parties that is reasonable and proportionate in all the circumstances of the case;
- Efficient and effective use of resources;
- An effective approach to case management of all cases including the use of internal and external Alternative Dispute Resolution;
- An encouragement of appropriate dispute resolution procedures;
- Costs consequences for failure to comply with orders;
- A pragmatic approach to litigation costs and disclosure of costs;
- Ensuring issues in dispute are identified and narrowed to those issues genuinely in dispute;
- Effective preparation for hearings;
- Efficient and timely disposition of Cases.
While these issues have always been a feature of litigation in the Family Law jurisdiction, the Family Law Courts appear to be taking a direct approach to com negative views about the delays and inconsistencies some face as a Family Law litigant.