What is a Case Management Hearing?

In the Federal Court of Australia, a case management hearing is a meeting of the parties and the Court to identify issues at the earliest possible stage (Case Management Hearing).[1]  They are the essential element of, and main procedure used in achieving, case management.[2]  In Queensland Courts, they are referred to as case management conferences.[3]  Case Management Hearings may be referred to by different terms in each State.  This article discusses Case Management Hearings in the Federal Court.

What do Case Management Hearings consider?

The content of Case Management Hearing is guided by part 8.5 of the Central Practice Note which outlines considerations that parties ought to consider.  These are referred to as the Case Management imperatives (Imperatives) which are:

  • identifying and narrowing the issues in dispute as soon as possible;
  • settling on the critical points of issue to be taken to trial;
  • whether the matter is more appropriate for the Federal Circuit Court or a Full Court;
  • whether a more detailed or concise, depending on originating application, account of the applicant’s case is needed;[4]
  • the use and timing of any alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques;
  • how to best manage actionable issues;
  • how to best manage preliminary issues of fact and law;
  • how to best manage evidence;
  • minimising interlocutory hearings as much as possible;
  • minimising the burden of discovery as much as possible;
  • minimising the length of the trial by using collaborative tools such as using an agreed chronology of events;
  • making appropriate admissions to issues not seriously in dispute; and
  • receiving shorter versions of judgements to allow for a quick turnaround.

Initial Case Management Hearings

Initial Case Management Hearings (Initial Hearings) for commercial and corporate matters are to take place within two (2) to three (3) weeks of the originating application being filed in the Court Registry.[5]  For other practice areas, the Initial Hearing commences within five (5) weeks of the originating application being filed.[6]  The Initial Hearing aims to identify issues as early as possible and will have specific consideration on the:

  • matter’s most appropriate and efficient preparation course and the steps truly required, such as, discovery and method of trial;
  • the possibility of the matter being listed for trial, hopefully within six (6) months of the Initial Hearing; and
  • the options available for ADR including mediation.

The Initial Hearing, should it operate properly, minimises or eliminates the requirement for further Case Management Hearings.  However, there are circumstances where there is need for other Case Management Hearings.

Oppressive conduct

An example of when a further Case Management Hearing may be required is when the originating application alleges oppressive conduct of affairs of a company.[7]  Part 18 of the Commercial and Corporations Practice Note (C&C-1) (CC Practice Note) states the Initial Hearing is to consider:

  • if the matter can be resolved at that hearing;
  • the steps required before it can be resolved; and
  • what information is required before it can be resolved.

Part 19 of the CC Practice Note states that if the matter cannot be resolved at the Initial Hearing, it will be referred to mediation.  Failing resolution at mediation, the same part provides:

…the registrar may conduct a [C]ase [M]anagement [Hearing] immediately following the mediation to consider the most economic and efficient means of proceeding to and conducting the trial…”

Takeaways

Case Management Hearings are considered an integral part of the Federal Court System and the overarching pursuit of quick, efficient, and financially economical resolutions to disputes.  They require parties to identify the critical issues in dispute, consider a step-by-step trial plan, the handling of unforeseen issues and the possibility of using the ADR process.  Further, Case Management Hearings can occur in particular circumstances, such as, when mediation was unsuccessful in commercial and corporate matters.

Links and further references

Related materials

Central Practice Note: National Court Framework and Case Management (CPN-1)

Commercial and Corporations Practice Note (C&C-1)

Supreme Court of Queensland, Practice Direction Number 18 of 2018: Efficient Conduct of Civil Litigation

Related articles

Categories of discovery – Federal Court

Consolidating related proceedings in the Federal Court

Discovery in the Federal Court of Australia

Subpoenas to produce documents – Federal Court

Legislation

Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)

Federal Court Act 1976 (Cth)

Federal Court Rules 2011 (Cth)

Cases

Australian Securities and Investments Commission v Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited [2019] FCA 1284

Further information

If you need advice on litigation policies and procedures, contact us for a confidential and obligation free discussion:

Malcolm Burrows B.Bus.,MBA.,LL.B.,LL.M.,MQLS.
Legal Practice Director
Telephone: (07) 3221 0013
Mobile: 0419 726 535
e: mburrows@dundaslawyers.com.au

 

Disclaimer

This article contains general commentary only.  You should not rely on the commentary as legal advice.  Specific legal advice should be obtained to ascertain how the law applies to your particular circumstances.

[1] Central Practice Note: National Court Framework and Case Management (CPN-1) part 8.8; see also Commercial and Corporations Practice Note (C&C-1) part 6.8.

[2] Law Council of Australia, Case Management Handbook (March 2014), 18 (John Sheahan QC).

[3] See Supreme Court of Queensland, Practice Direction Number 18 of 2018: Efficient Conduct of Civil Litigation, [18].

[4] See also Australian Securities and Investments Commission v Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited [2019] FCA 1284 (Allsop CJ).

[5] Commercial and Corporations Practice Note (C&C-1) part 6.8.

[6] Central Practice Note: National Court Framework and Case Management (CPN-1) part 8.8.

[7] Commercial and Corporations Practice Note (C&C-1) part 16; see also Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) s 233.

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