Admiralty: I want to apply

In personam applications are commenced in the Court using the Application – General Federal Law, as prescribed in the Admiralty Rules 1988

If proceedings are transferred from the Federal Court of Australia to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the Court) and comply with the form requirements prescribed for use in the Federal Court, you will not need to prepare new forms/pleadings. 

Pleadings - points of claim 

The grounds of an application must explain briefly the basis on which the orders are sought. Where appropriate, pleadings will be ordered. If they are, an applicant may attach a pleading by way of points of claim. The pleading should observe the requirements of the Federal Court Rules. It should identify, in summary form, the material facts on which the applicant relies, but not the evidence by which those facts are to be proved. All necessary particulars must be given. 

Filing the application 

Wherever possible, you must file court documents online using eLodgment. You can follow these instructions on how to use eLodgment or see the Federal Court website

If it is not possible to file using eLodgment, you may be able to file your documents in person, by mail, or in certain circumstances by fax or email. Contact the Court if you are not sure how to file the documents. 

First court date 

There will always be a directions hearing on the first court date at which a final hearing date may be fixed or the proceeding referred to mediation or arbitration. You and your representatives should comply with the General Federal Law Practice Direction – Admiralty and maritime proceedings

You are encouraged to agree on draft short minutes of orders and send them by email to the Admiralty Panel Judge’s associate before any scheduled directions hearing. In some instances, apart from the first court date, the need for a hearing may be avoided if the parties agree on minutes of orders and the judge considers it appropriate to make those orders. 

At the first court date, the Court will explore the nature of the dispute and the issues raised, whether technical or evidentiary – including any difficulties in obtaining instructions and the availability of witnesses.  

You should attend the first court date prepared and fully informed in order to partake in a vigorous exploration of the proceeding and its management in the Court. The Court adopts the view expressed by the Federal Court that it is not an acceptable way of conducting litigation to ‘put the other side to proof’ on all issues. It is the duty of the parties and their legal representatives to ascertain, as far as reasonably possible the nature and extent of the facts which pertain to any particular case. This is not limited to the particular points which you want to prove. You are expected to identify the real and genuine issues in dispute, whether of fact or of law after due investigation. 

Efficient management by practitioners and litigants 

It is the duty of the profession to assist the Court in the performance of its duty to resolve disputes by reference to what truly is, or should be, in dispute: see generally Ashmore v Corporation of Lloyds [1992] 1 WLR 446, 453, and see the speech by Hayne J 'Judicial Case Management and the Duties of Counsel', Wednesday 24 February 1999 to the Readers of the Bar Practice Course, Brisbane, contained on the High Court website under the link 'publications'. In this context, parties should expect that the Court will be ready to use section 190(3) of the Evidence Act 1995 in appropriate circumstances to lessen the cost of proving matters not bona fide in dispute. 

How the parties cooperate to identify the issues in dispute, and to agree on facts that are not truly in dispute, is a matter for the profession and their commercial clients. An aspect of this cooperation between the parties’ representatives that the Court expects, however, is the provision of information and documentation in a prompt and timely fashion. Where legal practitioners make reasonable requests for documents or information (whether strictly 'particulars' or not) those requests should generally be met without delay. In some cases, the formality (and cost) of a verified list of documents will be necessary.  

Interlocutory applications 

If you want to make an interlocutory application in the proceeding, you should file an Application in a proceeding. The application must be supported by an affidavit unless the evidence relied on is already before the Court in an affidavit. The application and supporting affidavit must be served on all persons against whom the order is sought. 

Communicating with the Court  

It is inappropriate for one party to send submissions, letters and partisan documents to the judge. Fax and email are not to be used for private or unilateral filings of submissions or complaints without the leave of the Court. However, if all parties agree on a communication being sent to a judge, it may be forwarded, without leave, to the associate.