Appendix 10: Annual Performance Statement
Federal Court of Australia Annual Report 2015-2016
This is the Annual Performance Statement for the Federal Court of Australia, including the National Native Title Tribunal as required under s 39(1) (a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. This statement accurately presents the entity’s performance for the financial year 2015–2016 based on properly maintained records and in compliance with s 39(2) of the Act.
The Federal Court of Australia is a superior court of record and a court of law and equity. It sits in all capital cities and elsewhere in Australia from time to time. The Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil matter and some summary and indictable criminal matters arising under laws made by the Federal Parliament, as well as any matter arising under the Constitution or involving its interpretation. The Federal Court has a substantial and diverse appellate jurisdiction. Further details about the Court’s jurisdiction are available in Part 1 at page 3.
The primary objective of the Court is to apply and uphold the rule of law to deliver remedies and enforce rights and in so doing, contribute to the social and economic development and well-being of all Australians. The Court is required to decide cases according to law as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible.
Since July 2012, the Court has had responsibility for the corporate administration of the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT). The NNTT is an independent body established by the Native Title Act 1993. The Federal Court provides staff and resources to the NNTT to enable the tribunal to carry out its functions. Further details about the NNTT and its work are available in Part 5 at page 64.
Performance Criterion One
Timely completion of cases: dispose of 85 per cent of cases within 18 months of commencement (excluding native title cases) (2015–2016 Portfolio Budget Statement p 339)
In the reporting period, the Court disposed of 93.7per cent (5395 cases) within 18 months of commencement. This figure includes appeals and related actions and excludes native title cases. This is well above the target rate of 85 per cent. Further information about the Court’s performance on this criterion can be found in Part 2 at page 11.
Performance Criterion Two
Reduction in the number of matters over 18 months old. (2015–2016 Portfolio Budget Statement p 339)
In the reporting period, the Court had only 6.3 per cent of its caseload over 18 months old. This figure represents a four-year low and a reduction from 7.5 per cent in 2014–2015. This is well above the target rate of 18.50 per cent. Further information about the Court’s performance on this criterion can be found in Part 2 at page 11.
Since early 2015, the Court has been in the process of reinvigorating its case management approach through the National Court Framework (NCF). The NCF has four main goals, which are to organise and manage nationally the Court’s work by subject matter areas, organise the Court’s resources to meet the demands
of the broad range of work done by the Court, develop the confidence of the profession and the community; and broaden the base of judicial knowledge and experience in the Court.
The Court restructured the system of allocation of matters to ensure efficiency and national consistency in the allocation of matters to judges. The Court has created new simplified practice notes reflecting the national practice areas, driven by a central case management practice note that offers guidance to parties, the profession and judges about critical aspects of practice; and operated a carefully managed docket system to support judges and facilitate timely judgment delivery. These reforms have contributed to the Court meeting its performance criteria. More details of the NCF reforms can be found in Part 2 at page 11.
The Court has continued implementing its successful eServices strategy. This strategy aims to use technology to maximise the efficient management of cases, by increasing online accessibility for the legal community and, where appropriate, members of the public, as well as assisting judges in their task of deciding cases according to law quickly, inexpensively and as efficiently as possible. The strategy has provided the benefits of streamlining systems and processes of the Court as well as creating time efficiencies. More information about the eServices strategy can be seen at Part 4 at page 49.