Federal Circuit Court of Australia Complaints Policy
How can I make a complaint?
You can send your written complaint by post or email.
Generally complaints should be addressed to:
You will need to include the following details with your complaint:
Your full name
Complaints about delays in delivery of reserved judgments and the conduct of judicial officers should be addressed to the Chief Judge (see “Delay in delivery of reserved judgments” and “Judicial conduct” below).
The Court will acknowledge your complaint
The Court will generally acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and will endeavour to provide a formal response within 20 working days.
Types of Complaints
You may make a complaint about the services delivered by registry staff and other administrative staff of the Court. Such complaints are generally referred to the manager of the registry in which the complaint arose.
Judicial decisions and conduct of proceedings
If your complaint relates to the decision of a judicial officer or the conduct of proceedings, this is not a matter that the Chief Judge or the Chief Executive Officer can investigate. Allegations of errors by a judicial officer in the conduct of proceedings, the evidence relied upon or decisions made can only be determined by way of the formal appeal process.
There are time limits for the filing of an appeal. The Court’s website has information on appeal processes. You may wish to seek legal advice to determine whether appealing the decision in your case is appropriate. Court staff cannot provide legal advice.
The Court has a judicial complaints policy which establishes procedures for the handling of complaints about judicial conduct.
Complaints relating to judicial conduct should be addressed to:
Delay in delivery of reserved judgments
The Court’s judicial complaints policy also establishes a protocol relating to the delivery of reserved judgements. The protocol is designed to ensure that decisions are handed down, and reasons are given, as expeditiously as possible. The benchmark for the handing down of reserved judgments is within 3 months of the hearing or receipt of written submissions.
Complaints relating to the delivery of reserved judgements should be addressed to the Chief Judge, whose details are provided below, or to the President of the appropriate State or Territory Law Society/Institute or Bar Association.
Complaints in pending proceedings
Generally, it will not be appropriate for the Court to investigate complaints about the conduct of pending proceedings. In most cases it will be appropriate for you to raise your complaint in court when your matter is next listed for hearing.
If you believe a child is at risk or has been abused, you should report it to the relevant welfare authority in your State or Territory. Unlike welfare authorities, the Court does not have the power to investigate abuse.
Family dispute resolution services and family reports
Complaints about family dispute resolution services and family reports provided by or on behalf of the Court are generally referred to the appropriate Regional Dispute Resolution Co-ordinator.
The Regional Dispute Resolution Co-ordinator will endeavour to address your concerns with the person or organisation to whom your complaint relates and provide a response to you.
However, if you disagree with a Family Report, as with any evidence, the appropriate venue for challenging the Report is at your hearing by cross-examination. This is where you, or your lawyer, may ask the Family Consultant questions about the contents of the Report and their assessment of your family.
If you wish to cross-examine the Family Consultant who prepared your Report you, or your lawyer, must write to the Family Consultant at least 14 days before the hearing.
Lawyers, Independent Children’s Lawyers, and legal costs
You may bring to Court’s attention issues relating to the conduct of another party’s lawyer or an independent children’s lawyer only if the conduct has adversely affected your current case. The Court cannot deal with such complaints after final determination of your matter.
If you have a complaint about the conduct of your lawyer, about a bill you have received from your lawyer, or about the conduct of another lawyer, including an Independent Children’s Lawyer, that does not relate to current proceedings before the Court, you should contact the relevant body in your State or Territory – see below for contact details.
In relation to complaints about Independent Children’s Lawyers, you may wish to also notify the relevant State or Territory legal aid body responsible for appointment of the Independent Children’s Lawyer in your matter.
Note - it is a good idea to first try and resolve any issues directly with the lawyer before making a formal complaint.
Australian Capital Territory
Phone: (02) 6247 5700
New South Wales
Phone: (02) 9377 1800 or 1800 242 958
Phone: (08) 8981 5104
Phone: (07) 3406 7737 or 1300 655 754
Phone: (08) 8212 7924
Phone: (03) 6234 4133
Phone: (03) 9679 8001 or 1300 796 344
Phone: (08) 9461 2299
Vexatious complaints and complainant misconduct
The Court may not respond to your complaint if it is vexatious or lacks substance. The Court has no power to investigate allegations of corruption or criminality. If a complaint raises issues which have already been responded to then no further response will be provided.
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Page Updated 15 February 2013