On 6 April 2020, the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia announced the establishment of a new specialist National Arbitration List.

This is an electronic list in each Court which is managed by specific Judges depending on the nature of the application. It has been confirmed that:

  1. Justice Josh Wilson will be the National Arbitration Judge for the Family Court of Australia;
  1. Judge Joe Harman will be the National Arbitration Judge for the Federal Circuit Court of Australia; and
  1. Justice Strickland will be the coordinating Appeals Judge for Arbitration Appeals in the Appeal Division of the Family Court of Australia.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution procedure whereby an independent third party (arbitrator) hears the issues in dispute between the parties, considers the relevant evidence, and decides the outcome of the case on a final basis. The arbitrator sits in the place of the judge.

Importantly, an arbitrator may be appointed to hear a variety of different family law matters, and may determine the entirety of the matter or a discrete aspect of the matter. However this list is not available for parenting or child support proceedings.

How does this List work?

There are two ways in which your matter can be arbitrated, namely:

  1. A Court ordered arbitration; or
  1. A private arbitration.

A combination of both is also possible.

If the court orders an arbitration, similarly to a court ordered mediation, the parties must sign an arbitration agreement, provide the relevant documents to the arbitrator, pay the arbitrators fee and provide a detailed background of the matter prior to the arbitration.

Alternatively, if the parties agree to have a private arbitration, it will be at the parties’ discretion to make those arrangements.

Once the matter is referred into the List, an Arbitration List Judge will be allocated to the matter to manage the case and the parties will be notified accordingly. The matter will then be listed before the Judge for a mention approximately four months after being allocated the file. A mention is the first time that the matter is brought before the Judge. At this time, the Judge will usually give directions to the parties regarding the timetable for the matter and make orders as to the appropriate procedural steps which must be undertaken by each party.

The court have given a four-month timeframe between the application and the mention to enable the parties to arrange and attend the arbitration. If the parties are unable to complete the arbitration in that time, then the Judge who manages the case will make order directing an appropriate timeframe in which arbitration must be finished.

The arbitration hearing will be conducted electronically and generally each Friday.

Why Arbitration?

Arbitration is a very cost-effective method of resolving disputes. This is because the parties avoid the significant legal expense associated with running a matter at final hearing. Some clients who have particularly complex property and/or parenting disputes may spend over six figures in legal fees running their matters before a Judge and after the conclusion of the hearing, they may not receive the decision for a number of months.

Moreover, due to the significant backlog of cases before the Courts at present with matters only being listed for a final hearing some 12 to 18 months after the applications are filed, arbitration is a far better way to ensure a streamlined and expeditious outcome.

The decisions of the arbitrator are private and confidential and as such the decision is not published to the public. In addition, this process is far more flexible. Once the parties have agreed on an appropriate date for the arbitration to take place, the process is a very streamlined and expeditious. Arbitration also gives the parties an option to narrow the issue in dispute together and therefore control the duration of the hearing.

More information

If you have any further questions regarding the National Arbitration List or require advice in respect of your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact us on 8600 9333 or email us at info@tlfc.com.au.

Related Articles

View All
Family Law / Family Law Advice

Child Impact Reports – what are they and what benefit do they provide?

When additional information is required, then the parties may agree to attend upon or an order may made by the Court...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

Grandparents and parenting – do I have any right to see my grandchild?

If you are a grandparent and your relationship with your children become fractured, this may impact on the time that...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

May is Family Violence Prevention Month: Who should you contact?

Unfortunately, the breakdown of a relationship and separation is a time of increased risk of family violence   If...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

Parenting arrangements for Mother’s Day or other special occasions

Blended families are now far more common and some children have more than one influential female in their lives There...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

VCAT rules on landmark test case on ‘reasonable costs’ claimable by Owners Corporations

On 1 December 2021, the Owners Corporations and Other Acts Amendment Act 2021 (“Amending Act”) came into force The...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

Do children have a right to spend time with extended family and other significant people? Can I only apply for parenting orders in relation to a child if I am a parent?

However, you don’t have to be a parent to bring parenting proceedings in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

Superannuation information now more accessible in family law matters

Up until now, if one party was not forthcoming with disclosure about their superannuation entitlements, then the other...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

Married or de facto – is there a difference?

Marriage in Australia A marriage is defined as the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

COVID-19 Vaccinations for children aged 5 and over – I want my child vaccinated? My ex-partner does not agree? What do I do?

Children aged 5 and over are now eligible to receive a the COVID-19 vaccine Unsurprisingly, many parents are now asking...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

Tisher Liner FC Law (Family Law) and Justine Clark recognised in Doyle’s Guide

Tisher Liner FC Law has been recognised within the family law profession in the Doyle’s Guide as a recommended...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

The Merging of the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court – what does it mean for you?

The merger of the two Courts is intended to resolve the backlog of family law matters awaiting judicial determination...
Read More
Family Law / Family Law Advice

Announcement of new Family Law Special Counsel – Brynne Allen

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Brynne Allen as Special Counsel in Family Law at Tisher Liner FC Law...
Read More