Communicating with the Court

How do I communicate with the Court?

The Court appreciates that effective communication is, where appropriate, necessary with chambers and registry staff in order for matters to run smoothly. The following guides assist Court users appropriately communicate with the Court.

Any communication with the Court (especially with chambers staff) should not unduly influence the decision-maker (i.e. the Judge) or the procedure of the litigation, as it could compromise the Judge's impartiality and independence.

Who can I ask for help?

You can ask Registry staff about court processes, filing and service of documents, Federal Court Rules 2011 (Cth) (Rules) or compliance with orders the Court has made.

Important Note: Registry staff are not permitted by law to give you legal or strategic advice.

Registry staff are under a duty to the Court to remain impartial to all parties in a matter.

Is it appropriate to speak directly to the Judge?

Outside a Court hearing, it is never appropriate for any party, or any legal practitioner, to contact privately a Judge directly about a matter for which the Judge is responsible.

Some Judges do not allow direct contact with their chambers unless a party has a lawyer. You should ask the Judge hearing your case how that Judge would like you to be in contact. If the Judge decides there will be no direct contact with chambers, you must communicate with the Judge's chambers through the registry.

When can I contact Chambers staff?

You should only contact chambers in very limited circumstances. Except for ex parte applications (see below), it is inappropriate for you to unilaterally contact chambers staff.

If you are self-represented, your first point of contact should always be the local Registry. In some registries, there is dedicated Self-represented Co-ordinators.

Any contact with chambers must be open and uncontroversial and, where possible, by email and copied to all parties involved in the matter.

An ex parte application is an application that is brought by one person without the other parties having to be notified. For example: certain freezing orders, injunction and subpoena applications are ex parte applications.

Before contacting chambers, you should discuss any issues with the other parties in the matter, and attempt to reach an agreed position. The Court expects that such discussions will be conducted in good faith to avoid the Court's intervention or unnecessarily burdening the Court.

Examples of inappropriate communications with chambers and registry staff

When communicating with the Court, it is inappropriate for you to:

  • be rude, aggressive or abrasive
  • attempt to unduly influence the Judges, Judicial Registrars or other Court staff, or the procedure of the litigation
  • seek legal advice, or raise substantive legal issues. This includes asking:
      whether you should commence matters at the Court
      how to draft a Court document
      asking for advice on what to say in Court
      asking what the decision or judgment of the Court might be
      asking for advice on the meaning of orders made by a Judge or a Judicial Registrar
  • ask for recommendations for a lawyer
  •  
  • provide irrelevant, scandalous or vexatious documents to the Court
  • send broadcast emails (to a range of recipients, such as to the Court staff, parties in the matter or third parties, even though the contents of the email is not directly relevant to the recipient).

Examples of appropriate communications with chambers and registry staff

Whether the proposed communication is appropriate depends on the relevant context, including the subject matter or nature of the communication, and the sequence of events leading to the communication.

Examples of when it is appropriate for you to contact chambers staff:

  • provide a copy of a signed consent order for the Judge's consideration and approval
  • clarify that you cannot attend Court for a listed hearing due to a serious personal circumstance (such as a serious illness)
  • explaining that there will be delay in your attending a hearing in Court
  • raise a matter in accordance with an order/direction from the Court to do so

The following are examples of appropriate matters which may be discussed with registry staff:

Operation of the Court
  • Information about the Court's practices and procedures, practice notes and matters on the Court's website
  • Information about interpreters
  • How a matter is case managed and the process involved in each step leading up to the final hearing
Court forms and documents
  • What Court forms are needed to be used
  • Where to access the forms
  • Whether a form or other document has been sufficiently completed to be accepted for filing (for example, that signatures and any relevant attachments are present)
Filing Court documents
  • How to formally file a document (e.g. over-the-counter, eLodgment)
  • Whether a document has been accepted for filing
Court fees
Referrals for legal advice
Mediations
  • Basic information about Mediations and the process involved

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