Principles on a Successful Recovery: Addressing the Backlog of Cases in the Federal Courts as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic
8 July 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Courts (High Court of Australia (High Court), Federal Court of Australia (Federal Court), Federal Circuit Court of Australia (Federal Circuit Court) and Family Court of Australia (Family Court)) have each put in place alternative arrangements for listings and other events that would ordinarily require in person attendance and have had to adjourn or otherwise delay certain hearings where such arrangements are not appropriate or practicable.
The alternative arrangements adopted by the Federal Courts have included shifting operations to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems. The Courts have also implemented other measures, including revised registry services. The Law Council commends the Federal Courts for engaging in clear, consistent and constructive communication with the legal profession throughout this process.
As Australia moves into the COVID-19 recovery period, the Law Council will work collaboratively with the Federal Courts to identify common goals and priorities for the administration of justice that both address legacy issues and embrace opportunities to which COVID-19 has given rise. These take into account the challenge of minimising the incidence and impact of the delays in commencing and finalising matters, which may be exacerbated by the concurrent increased demand for court resources in relation to particular matters, such as domestic violence.
The goals and priorities that the Law Council has thus far identified are set out below. They are intended as an indicator of measures that might be priorities and assist in a successful recovery as the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are gradually eased.
The Law Council looks forward to continued engagement with the Federal Courts as they continue to review, adapt and develop procedures, processes and systems in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the future.