Law Council of Australia

Federal Dispute Resolution Section

Case Management Handbook

Important Note:

The introduction of the Federal Court’s National Court Framework reforms, including the extensive revision of the Court’s Practice Notes, has effected a fundamental reform of the Court and the way that it operates. The Case Management Handbook is currently under revision to seek to ensure that it reflects these changes. It is envisaged that the structure of the revised Handbook will be closely aligned with the organisation of the Court’s new Practice Notes and be responsive to the content and practices reflected in them.

Among other things, this will necessitate the re-writing of existing chapters and the writing of extensive new content. The revision of the Handbook is a significant project and will take some time. While this revision is underway, you should be aware that not all chapters of the Handbook will reflect the new Practice Notes. Existing chapters still contain useful observations regarding case management principles, but as they were written before the introduction of the new Framework they should be read with this in mind.

The current version of the Handbook is available at the link at the foot of this page.

The revised structure of the Handbook is provided below. Where a chapter is under revision or has not yet been written, that has been noted. As chapters are revised and new chapters are written, links will be added.

About the Handbook

The Federal Dispute Resolution Section of the Law Council of Australia is very pleased to publish the Federal Court of Australia Case Management Handbook. This initiative has grown out of continuing close liaison between the Court and the Section and ongoing workshops and discussions regarding the best approaches to the management of cases before the Court.

The principal aims of this work are twofold:

The Handbook is not intended to be a comprehensive treatment of practice and procedure in the Court, nor a substitute for existing works on federal civil procedure or evidence. Secondly, it is not intended to undermine the individual docket system or to restrict the discretions of Judges in performing case management. 

On the contrary, it is based on the belief that a particular advantage of proceeding in the Court is that, in general, each case is managed from start to finish by the Judge who will decide it, with the Court and the parties together able to attend to the circumstances of the particular case from the outset. This work seeks to encourage that process. The handbook is also not intended to qualify or detract from the operation of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) or the FCRs. Again, the contrary is the case. The object is to encourage a better appreciation of the full scope of the opportunities they provide for quick, inexpensive and efficient resolution of disputes.

Particular mention should be made of John Sheahan SC, who first floated the idea of a Handbook and was involved in writing key chapters as well as arranging for the other contributions; and of the learned and innovative work of the other authors, Steven Finch SC, Philip Crutchfield SC, Roger Forbes, Chris Rogers, and Leon Zwier.

Mention should also be made of the Hon Justice Michelle Gordon AC (now a Justice of the High Court of Australia) who was a driving force behind the Court's innovative approaches to more effective case management. Her Honour's encouragement has been decisive to the development of the Handbook.

The Federal Dispute Resolution Section commends the Handbook to users of the Federal Court.


Introduction (to be revised)
1. Central Practice Note: National Court Framework and Case Management (to be drafted)
2. Brief History of the Court (to be revised)
3. Some General Considerations (to be revised)
4. Mechanics of Case Management: National Court Framework (to be drafted)
5. Mechanics of Case Management: Central Practice Note (to be drafted)
6. Identifying and Narrowing the Issues (Revised)
7. Alternative Dispute Resolution (see Current Handbook Chapter 6)
8. Discovery of Documents (Revised)
9. Discovery of Facts (Revised)
10. Interlocutory Applications (Revised)
11. Evidence of Witnesses (to be revised)
12. Documentary Evidence (to be revised)
13. Expert Evidence and Survey Evidence (to be revised)

National Practice Area Practice Notes
14. Administrative and Constitutional Law and Human Rights (to be drafted)
15. Admiralty and Maritime (to be drafted)
16. Commercial and Corporations (to be drafted, see Current Handbook Chapter 14 – Competition Law)
17. Competition Law (to be drafted)
18. Federal Crime (to be drafted)
19. Employment and Industrial Relations (to be drafted)
20. Intellectual Property (to be drafted)
21. Native Title (to be drafted)
22. Taxation (to be drafted)
23. Defamation (to be drafted)

General Practice Notes
24. Class Actions
25. Costs (new chapter)
26. Technology and the Court (to be drafted)

Proceedings involving foreign courts or jurisdictions
27. Cross-border Insolvency (to be drafted)
28. Overseas Service and Evidence (to be drafted)
29. Foreign Judgments (to be drafted)

30. Enforement, Endorsement, and Contempt (to be drafted)
31. Interest on Judgment (to be drafted)

Appeals Practice Note
32. Appeals
33. Content of Appeal Books (to be drafted)
34. Consent Orders Involving a Federal Tribunal (to be drafted)

Appendix A – Example Confidentiality Regime (see Current Handbook Appendix A)


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