Non-party request to inspect a general federal law or migration file

icon for other matters (general federal law)

The Commonwealth Courts Portal sets out basic details for many general federal law cases and some limited migration cases that have been filed in the FCFCOA (Division 2), such as the names of the parties and their legal representatives, the file number, hearing dates (past and future), orders and a list of all filed documents.

If you are a non-party, a request can be made to access court documents by following the process below and completing a Request by a Non-Party for Access to Court Documents form.

1. Before making your request

Any person making a request to access a document is expected by the Court, to have:

  • considered the relevant Rules
  • referred to the Commonwealth Courts Portal for the list of documents that have been filed in the case, and ensure that the request clearly identifies the document(s) sought and the application is clear, concise and accurately refers to the listed documents
  • considered whether the material sought is commercially sensitive, confidential or intended to be used in another proceeding.

2. Completing the request form

Please include all relevant information in your request to minimise delays in considering the request. A range of factors the Court will consider include:

  • whether the Access Applicant is a party or non-party
  • whether the documents fall initially within a restricted or unrestricted category
  • the context and purpose underpinning the request
  • the nature of the documents sought – For example:
    • if the documents have been admitted into evidence or read out in open court
    • whether the documents are confidential, restricted from publication, the subject of legal privilege or contain scandalous material etc.
    • if the request may result in an undue burden on the Court.

The Court may require you to communicate with relevant persons or parties connected with the documents in the proceeding about the Request, inviting such parties to comment on the Request (or the Court may do so itself).

3. Lodging the request

Applications are to be made by email to the relevant filing registry location:

4. Receiving Court documents

Once the Court has made a decision on the request, then you will be notified about the outcome of the decision, usually via email.

If your request is approved, you must pay the fee for inspection of the documents (production of the file) and any applicable fees if copies are requested.

Generally, documents will be provided to you via email, however, if hard copies are required, you must pay any applicable photocopying fees. Photocopying fees may be exempted only if the person liable to pay is entitled to a general or financial hardship exemption in the proceedings generally.

You can pay the relevant fee by:

  • Visa or MasterCard via the Court's website using Payment Express (via the Federal Court of Australia website); or
  • At the Court by money order, transfer, Visa or Mastercard.

If a request is approved the Court will provide the documents in the manner that it considers will be the most efficient and cost-effective, either:

  • in electronic form via email; or
  • in person: in some circumstances it may be more appropriate to provide the documents in person at the relevant Registry. In which case you should arrange with the Registry a suitable time to inspect and copy the document to which the approval applies. If you are interstate or unable to attend in person please make appropriate arrangements with the Registry.