Overview of the National Practice Notes

What’s New

On 18 September 2017 the Federal Court revoked the version of the Interest on Judgments Practice Note (GPN-INT) issued on 25 October 2016 and issued the new Interest on Judgments Practice Note (GPN-INT) effective immediately.

On 15 May 2017 the Federal Court issued the NPA practice note - Federal Crime and Related Proceedings (CRIME1) effective immediately.

Review of Practice Notes

There are 27 national practice notes that have been issued by the Federal Court. Any previous practice notes and administrative notices have been superseded by these national practice notes.

On 25 October 2016 the Federal Court issued a suite of General Practice Notes (GPNs).  The GPNs (excluding the Class Actions Practice Note) were issued on a "12-month review” basis to allow for detailed feedback.  That formal review period has now closed.  However, the Court continues to welcome your feedback on the GPNs and the Court’s other national practice notes.

See below for further information about the Court’s practice notes and how to provide feedback on them.

View Practice Notes

Practice Notes overview

Practice notes are used to provide information to parties in proceedings in the Court and their lawyers on particular aspects of the Court's practice and procedure. Practice Notes are issued by the Chief Justice upon the advice of the Judges of the Court pursuant to the Court's inherent power to control its own processes. In general, practice notes are issued to:

  • complement particular legislative provisions or rules of court
  • set out procedures for particular types of proceedings
  • notify parties and their lawyers of particular matters which may require their attention.

A key component of the National Court Framework (NCF) reforms has been the review of all the Court's practice documents to ensure nationally consistent and simplified practice. The Court's practice documents have been consolidated and refined from 60 practice notes and administrative notices to 27 national practice notes.

Categories of Practice Notes

The Court's practice notes fall into 3 categories:

1. Central Practice Note

The Central Practice Note (CPN-1) is the core practice note for Court users and addresses the guiding NCF case management principles applicable to all National Practice Areas (NPAs). One of its main aims is to ensure that case management is not process-driven or prescriptive, but flexible - with parties and practitioners being encouraged and expected to take a common-sense and co-operative approach to litigation to reduce its time and cost.

2. National Practice Area (NPA) Practice Notes

Interlocking with the Central Practice Note are the NPA practice notes. Currently, each NPA, excluding the Other Federal Jurisdiction NPA, has an NPA practice note.

Amongst other things, the NPA practice notes raise NPA-specific case management principles and can allow for expedited or truncated hearing processes and tailored or concise pleading and other processes.

Parties may also seek to adopt the processes set out in one NPA practice note for use in a different NPA. For example, the flexible and streamlined procedures for the commencement of proceedings, use of concise statements and tailored discovery and evidence procedures set out in the Commercial and Corporations Practice Note (C&C-1) may be used in other NPAs.

3. General Practice Notes (GPNs)

Also interlocking with the Central Practice Note and NPA practice notes are the General Practice Notes (GPNs). These practice notes are intended to apply to all or many cases across NPAs, or otherwise address important administrative matters. A number of GPNs set out particular arrangements or information concerning a variety of key areas, such as class actions, expert evidence, survey evidence, costs, subpoenas and accessing Court documents.

4. Appeals Practice Note

The Court has made considerable changes to the management of appeals and related applications and is in the process of preparing comprehensive practice notes outlining the management of, and requirements relating to, appeals and related applications. 

In the interim, the Court has:

  • revoked the former Practice Note APP 1 - Listings for Full Court and appellate sittings;
  • partially amended and reissued Practice Note APP 2 - Content of appeal books and preparation for hearing; and
  • set out further information regarding appeals on the Court's website, accessible from the appeals "homepage"

Guides and forms

In addition to the practice notes, a number of guides and forms have been developed to further assist parties and their lawyers. This includes the Guide to Communications with Chambers Staff, the Guide to Communications with Registry Staff, and guides covering areas such as appeals, migration, human rights and insolvency matters.

Date of effect

All of the Court’s practice notes take effect on the date they are issued and, to the extent practicable, apply to proceedings whether filed before or after the date of issue. It is important that all parties and practitioners familiarise themselves with the Court's practice notes.

How to cite the National Practice Notes

As noted above, the new national practice notes are organised into 3 categories: "Central"; "National Practice Area" and "General".

Each new practice note has been given a distinctive title designed to assist users in quickly and intuitively identifying the required practice note and a unique identifier, which varies depending on the category of practice note (ie. TAX-1: is the NPA practice note relating to the Taxation NPA; GPN-COSTS: is the general practice note on costs).

When citing the Court's national practice notes the rule stated in the Australian Guide to Legal Citation generally applies. The unique Identifier becomes the practice note "Number":

If the practice note is reproduced in a report series:

Court, Practice Note Number/Unique Identifier - Title of Practice Note, Citation of Report Series, Pinpoint.

If the practice note is not published in a report series:

Court, Practice Note Number/Unique Identifier - Title of Practice Note, Full Date, Pinpoint.

Example: Federal Court of Australia, Practice Note CPN-1 – Central Practice Note: National Court Framework and Case Management, 25 October 2016, para 8.5.

Providing Feedback on Practice Notes

The Court's practice notes were developed following extensive internal consultation involving Judges and Registrars of the Court and external consultation with the legal profession and other Court users. This included multiple consultation processes with the legal profession in respect of the Central, NPA and Class Action practice notes, and a "12-month review" period for General Practice Notes. That formal review period has now closed.

The Court will review the feedback received and make any appropriate amendments to the practice notes. Although the formal review period has closed, the Court continues to welcome your feedback on all of its practice notes.

Please provide any feedback via email, addressed to the Deputy National Operations Registrar, David Pringle, email address: practice.notes@fedcourt.gov.au including a short summary of important issues that you wish to bring to the Court's attention and your relevant contact details. The Court will consider all feedback and acknowledge receipt of all feedback provided.

Revoked practice documents

The following cross-reference tables have been developed to assist Court users with the significant changes that occurred to the Court's practice documents on 25 October 2016:

All Practice Notes