Thursday, May 16, 2013

County Court Commercial List Practice Notes for 2013.

The County Court has issued several practice notes for the Commercial List.

The first is Practice Note PNCI 3-2013 for the Commercial List, General Division, of the County Court of Victoria. This supersedes the previous practice note issued. Click here for the Practice Note PNCI 3-2013.

The main points of note in Practice Note PNCI 3-2013 are as follows:
  • It concerns the General Division only.
  • Once an appearance is filed an administrative mention is triggered, which requires the parties to submit consent orders to the court and for the court to nominate a trial date. If the parties are not ready to proceed at the time an administrative mention notice is received, they should contact the directions group indicating why the matter is not ready and requesting that the case be listed for administrative mention.
  • Discovery of certain minimum documents will be required, and a catch all order of the documents which are 'reasonable in the circumstances' for a party to discover will be made. The parties must determine the question of reasonableness, and if they cannot, they can obtain the assistance of the Court.
  • The Court encourages the preparation of agreed lists of discoverable documents.
  • Applications for interlocutory hearings may be made to the Commercial List Duty Judge through the Directions Group. Applications are made by filing a draft form of order together with any affidavit(s) in support, unless the Rules specifically require the issue of a summons.
  • The Court may order a case conference or a judicial resolution conference. The parties, or a representative of a corporate party with authority to settle the proceeding, must attend. A case conference will be held in open court and counsel for the parties will be expected to be able to discuss the issues of fact and law. There will be an opportunity for private negotiations.
  • The Judge may participate in without prejudice discussions where both parties are present at a judicial resolution conference. Everything said or done in a judicial resolution conference is confidential. The Judge who conducts the judicial resolution conference will not hear the trial of the proceeding unless the parties consent.
  • Every effort will be made to ensure that General Division cases are listed before a Judge with commercial experience. Where a case cannot be reached, it will be transferred to the Expedited Cases Division and listed before a specific commercial Judge, with priority.
  • Parties are encouraged to agree to the tender of non-contentious documents wherever possible.
The second is Practice Note PNCI 1-2013 for the Commercial List Duty Judge. This supersedes the previous practice note issue. Click here for Practice Note PNCI 1-2013.

The main points of note in Practice Note PNCI 1-2013 are as follows:
  • The Duty Judge hears all case conferences and judicial resolution conferences, in addition to administrative mentions, directions hearings and hearing interlocutory disputes. In other lists of the Commercial List, the Judge in charge will deal with interlocutory applications, and not the Duty Judge.
  • Unless a summons is specifically required by the rules, the standard order reserving liberty to apply will be regarded by the court as obviating the need for a summons to apply for all other applications.
  • Where a summons is not required for an application, application is made by email to the directions group, and the email must be copied to all other parties. An affidavit is not required where only correspondence is relied on, and the correspondence may be produced as a bundle at the hearing.
  • Where the application requires evidence of contentious facts, an affidavit is necessary. The affidavit must be served in sufficient time before the application is heard to allow all parties an opportunity to respond to the application.
  • If the matter requires a relatively short directions hearing in the General Division, it is likely to be given a return date on the next available Thursday at 9.30am provided the time estimate is less than 1 hour.
  • Short directions hearings in the Expedited Cases Division will be listed on Fridays at 9.30am.
  • More substantive interlocutory matters will be listed during Monday to Wednesday subject to the availability of the Duty Judge. 
  • Proceedings are not automatically transcribed unless by prior arrangement.
The third is Practice Note PNCI 2-2013 for the Commercial List, Expedited Cases Division. This supersedes the previous practice note issued. Click here for Practice Note PNCI 2-2013.

The main points of note in Practice Note PNCI 2-2013 are as follows:
  • Directions will depend on the circumstances of the case, and flexibility will be shown in relation to interlocutory steps and the mode of presenting evidence at the trial.

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