Overview of the National Practice Notes

What’s New

On 12 November 2019 the Federal Court issued a new practice note, Defamation Practice Note (Def-1), following consultation with the profession. Defamation is a Sub area within the Court’s Other Federal Jurisdiction National Practice Area. The Practice Note took effect from 12 November 2019, and to the extent practicable, applies to all defamation proceedings, whether commenced before or after 12 November 2019. The Court will take a flexible and common sense approach to any issues arising from the Practice Note being applied to existing proceedings.

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 a coherent suite of national practice notes.

Categories of Practice Notes

The Court's practice notes fall into 4 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) and Sub-areas. 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.  Defamation is a Sub-area within the Court’s Other Federal Jurisdiction National Practice Area.  It is currently the only Sub-area to have a practice note, Defamation Practice Note (Def-1).

Amongst other things, the NPA Practice Notes raise case management principles specific to NPAs and Sub-areas 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, if appropriate.

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, parties and their lawyers should refer to: 

  • Practice Note APP 2 - Content of appeal books and preparation for hearing; and
  • the further information regarding appeals on the Court's website, accessible from the appeals page

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 that 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" (including any relevant Sub-area Practice Note) 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 are developed following extensive internal consultation involving Judges and Judicial Registrars of the Court and external consultation with the legal profession and other Court users. In developing its practice notes, and other policy and practice, the Court's approach is to continually review its practice notes and procedures, and engage with the legal profession and other Court users on an ongoing basis. This is done through engagement with the legal profession and other Court users on an ongoing basis. This is done through engagement with the legal profession through established Court user groups, forums with the legal profession, and liaison with professional legal societies and associations at a national and local level.

In addition, the Court welcomes feedback in relation to its practice notes. Please provide any feedback via email, addressed to the Deputy Principle Judicial Registrar & 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

Revoked Practice Documents are accessible and listed in the Revoked Practice Documents section of the website, with the date of issue and the date of revokation noted for each revoked practice document.

In addition, given that on 25 October 2016, all previous practice documents were revoked and a suite of coherent national practice notes were issued, the following cross-reference tables have been developed to assist Court users with the changes that occurred at that time.

All Practice Notes