How to Make an Access Request to Inspect Court Documents
A step-by-step guide on "How to make an Access Request to inspect Court documents" is set out below. When making an access request, you should also consider the Access to Documents and Transcripts Practice Note and Division 2.4 of the Federal Court Rules 2011 (Cth).
1. Before making your request
Any person making a request to access a document is expected by the Court, to have:
- the relevant Rules.
- the Access to Documents and Transcripts Practice Note (GPN-ACCS).
- whether the request is the most efficient method possible to obtain the documents (e.g. certain types of documents are available to be accessed by parties and non-parties, without a fee, through the Commonwealth Courts Portal).
- whether the documents could be more easily and cost effectively obtained from an original or other source (e.g. a report of a Government agency freely available on that agency's website).
- ensuring the request is clear, concise, accurate and specific about the document(s) being requested (e.g. rather than requesting all affidavits on a file, only requesting those relevant to a person or particular period of time).
- whether they anticipate a likelihood for controversy to arise due to the request (e.g. if the material sought is commercially sensitive, confidential or intended to be used in another proceeding).
2. Obtaining the form
You should use the applicable form below:
- Request by a Party (RTF, KB)
- Request by a Non-Party / Media Representative:
DOCX, 118 KB | DOCX Unlocked fields 118 KB | PDF 344 KB
These forms are also available from your local Registry.
3. Completing the request form
It is in your interest to include important relevant information in the request to minimise delays in considering the request.
Some requests are not straightforward, and the Court may require you to provide further information or take certain steps before a decision will be made. A range of factors the Court will consider include:
- whether the Access Applicant is a party or non-party
- whether the documents fall initially within a restricted or unrestricted category
- the context and purpose underpinning the request
- the nature of the documents sought – For example:
if the documents have been admitted into evidence or read out in open court
whether the documents are confidential, restricted from publication, the subject of legal privilege or contain scandalous material etc
if the request may result in an undue burden on the Court (see Part 2 of the Access to Documents and Transcripts Practice Note (GPN-ACCS).
Complete the applicable request form including:
- your name and contact details
- the title of the proceedings and proceedings number
- the name of the judge/registrar (if known)
- if a non-party, whether you are a media representative, legal representative, researcher or other
- where the proceedings are being conducted (i.e. the Registry the matter is filed in)
- identifying which documents you wish to inspect or seek leave to inspect, in as clear, concise and accurate manner as possible
If you do not know this information already, some of this information may be found by doing a search of Federal Law Search.
4. Lodging your request
Applications for leave to inspect unrestricted documents prior to the first directions hearing or hearing can be made by email to Document.Inspections@fedcourt.gov.au
5. Payment of fee
On making a Request, the Access Applicant must pay the fee for inspection of the documents and any applicable fees if copies are requested.
Generally, documents will be provided to you via email, however, if hard copies are required, you must pay any applicable photocopying fees. Photocopying fees may be exempted only if the person liable to pay is entitled to a general or financial hardship exemption in the proceedings generally.
You can pay the relevant fee by Visa, Amex (FCA only) or MasterCard via the Court's website using Payment Express at:
- At the Court by money order, account or Visa, Amex or Mastercard.
6. Receiving Court documents
Once the Court has made a decision on the request, then you will be notified about the outcome of the decision, usually via email.
If a request is approved the Court will provide the documents in the manner that it considers will be the most efficient and cost-effective, either:
- in electronic form via email or
- in person: in some circumstances it may be more appropriate to provide the documents in person at the relevant Registry. In which case you should arrange with the Registry a suitable time to inspect and copy the document to which the approval applies. If you are interstate or unable to attend in person please make appropriate arrangements with the Registry.
Updated 10 February 2023