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Practice Notes

Every Issue

Cite as: (2002) 76(11) LIJ, p.68

FAMILY COURT

Revocation of Practice Directions Nos 3 and 4 of 2001

Practice Direction No 5 of 2002

Practice Direction No 3 of 2001 titled Amendment of Practice Direction No 1 of 1997 has been superseded by Practice Direction No 3 of 2002. Practice Direction No 4 of 2001 titled Application for Contact/Residence during the Christmas School Holiday Period has been superseded by Practice Direction No 4 of 2002.

CHIEF JUSTICE ALASTAIR NICHOLSON

14 OCTOBER 2002

COUNTY COURT

2003 taxation callover dates

The following are the 2003 taxation callover dates in the County Court by the taxing registrar (Court 4, 1st floor):

20 January
10 February
3 and 24 March
28 April
19 May
2 and 23 June
14 July
4 and 25 August
15 September
6 and 27 October
17 November
8 December

ROSS COOK

TAXING REGISTRAR

23 OCTOBER 2002

MAGISTRATES’ COURT

Mediation program

In keeping with the practice in certain other courts, it is proposed to develop further alternative dispute resolution processes within the Magistrates’ Court, in particular mediation.

This Court currently requires and undertakes pre-hearing conferences in most civil disputes. For a number of years, these conferences have been conducted by experienced registrars with much success. However, it is the view of the Court that many disputes could be resolved at an earlier time and at less expense to the parties should mediation processes be utilised. To this end a pilot mediation program commenced in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 1 October 2002, to run until 30 September 2003.

For the purposes of this program, once a notice of defence has been filed in relation to a complaint where the amount sought is $30,000 or more and the dispute possesses the characteristics making it suitable for mediation, the parties will be asked whether they consent to a mediation of their dispute. If they do, then a mediation will be arranged to occur within about eight weeks.

It will be conducted by a registrar of the Court who has been trained in mediation techniques. This service will be made available to the parties without charge.

The mediation will occur at the Court and will be in lieu of a compulsory pre-hearing conference. In most cases, three hours will be set aside for the mediation.

Where parties wish to engage a mediator of their choice, they may do so at their own expense. Those parties who are ineligible under the pilot program to be invited to enter into mediation may nonetheless elect to do so, and if desirous of a mediation conducted by a registrar will be free to notify the Court accordingly. Such a mediation will also be in lieu of a pre-hearing conference.

If the mediation does not resolve the dispute then the registrar, with the consent of the parties, may make orders to ensure that the dispute is ready for trial. Appropriate allowance can be made for professional costs associated with a mediation utilising Part 2 of the scale of costs contained in Appendix A of the Rules of the Magistrates’ Court.

In order to implement, supervise and evaluate the program, a Mediation Evaluation Unit will be established within the Court. It will consist of a magistrate and each of the registrars who will undertake mediations. The unit may be contacted on tel 9628 7777.

CHIEF MAGISTRATE IAN L GRAY

9 OCTOBER 2002

COURT SCALES OF COSTS

1. Increase to High Court scale of costs

A new High Court scale of costs, which applies in relation to all work done and services performed by solicitors after 30 September 2002, has been published as Commonwealth Statutory Rules No 223 of 2002. It can also be viewed on the Law Institute website at http://www.liv.asn.au/services/ services-Costing.html.

2. Increases to Victorian statutory scales of costs

Following a submission by the Law Institute, the Costs Coordination Committee (chaired by the Victorian Chief Justice) has recommended a 3.19 per cent increase to solicitors’ charges and a 5.5 per cent increase to barristers’ fees. The increases are expected to take effect on 1 January 2003 and about that date will be available for viewing on the Law Institute website at http://www.liv.asn.au/services/ services-Costing.html. All Victorian and federal statutory scales of costs are GST-inclusive.

PENALTY INTEREST RATE

The current penalty interest rate is 12 per cent (from 25 August 2002). A list of the previous rates can be found on page 7 of the 2002 Law Institute Legal Directory and Diary.

To monitor any changes to this rate between editions of the LIJ, practitioners should check the Department of Justice website http://www.justice.vic.gov.au under the heading “Fines, penalties and auctions”.

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