Exemption From Paying Court Fees

General exemption

A body or person is exempt generally from paying court fees in a proceeding if:

  • the body or person has been granted legal aid for that proceeding from a State/Territory Legal Aid Office or an approved legal aid scheme or service external link;
  • the person is the primary holder of a health care card, a pensioner concession card, a Commonwealth seniors health card or any other card certifying entitlement to Commonwealth health concessions;
  • the person is serving a sentence of imprisonment or is otherwise detained in a public institution;
  • the person is younger than 18;
  • the person is receiving youth allowance, Austudy payments or ABSTUDY benefits; or
  • the body or person has been granted assistance under Part 11 of the Native Title Act 1993 to bring that proceedings in the Federal Court by a registered body (see section 253 of that Act) or a person or body granted funding for that purpose under section 203FE of that Act.

Once a general exemption is established it continues until the proceeding is finalised, provided that there is no change in circumstances that alters the continued entitlement to that exemption. A body or person granted a general exemption must notify the Court if there is any change in circumstances which could alter that entitlement.

A body or person seeking such an exemption must complete an Application form for Exemption from Paying Court Fees – General and provide supporting evidence (for example a photocopy of their health care card, Legal Aid letter or Native Title Act funding letter).

Financial hardship exemption

An individual is exempt from paying a court fee which otherwise is payable in a proceeding if, in the opinion of a Judicial Registrar or an authorised officer, payment of that fee at that time would cause the person financial hardship. In deciding this, the Judicial Registrar or authorised officer is required to consider the individual’s income, day-to-day living expenses, liabilities and assets.

A financial hardship exemption is only available to an individual and, even if an earlier fee has been exempted, must be considered afresh on each occasion a fee is payable in any proceeding.

An individual seeking an exemption on the basis of financial hardship must complete an Application form for Exemption from Paying Court Fees – Financial Hardship.

A decision of a Judicial Registrar or authorised officer not to exempt an individual from paying a fee on the grounds of financial hardship, which must be given with reasons in writing, is reviewable by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.