Admiralty: Avoiding court

icon for admiralty

Sections 169 and 170 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021 provide for court ordered mediation and arbitration (the latter only with consent). Immunity is conferred on the mediator or arbitrator. The Court encourages the use of external mediation and arbitration.

It is expected that you will, in general, seek an early resolution of matters and that you will consider court-annexed mediation or early neutral evaluation. This is especially so for the resolution of small cargo claims.


The Court has staff shared with the Federal Court who are knowledgeable in maritime matters and cargo claims and who are trained mediators. Early mediation or early neutral evaluation by a registrar or a third party will be encouraged and sometimes ordered. Mediation can also be used to help identify and reduce issues in dispute, or to eliminate procedural arguments, as well as for the purposes of resolving the whole matter.


The Court has power to refer matters to arbitration. This may be particularly suitable in small cargo claims. If this course were taken, you could agree with the other party to deal with the matter on the papers, or with minimal oral evidence, waiving rules of evidence. Sections 171 and 172 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021 provide for referral of questions of law and review on a question of law by the Court. If this mechanism is appropriate, appeals on factual questions may be eliminated.