ECF means Dramatic Improvements for Profession
All actions in the Federal Court will now be created using the new Electronic Court File system (ECF) that was rolled out across Australia in the latter half of 2014, meaning dramatic improvements for the legal profession.
Paper files will no longer need to be created and maintained – and will eventually become a thing of the past.
“The use of new technology continues to change court operations in the same way it has affected business practices across the globe,” Chief Executive Warwick Soden said.
“The ECF is part of a ‘quiet revolution’ that will bring about significant savings in time and money, while improving case management for litigants, practitioners and the court.”
He said ECFs bring advantages to the Court such as ease-of-access, retrieval and portability. The Court is now free from the limitations paper files imposed. These advantages will bring efficiencies to how the Court deals with practitioners’ matters.
The ECF - the latest addition to the Court’s pioneering eServices Strategy - means files will be wholly created, managed and stored electronically. While this primarily affects the court’s functions, it also provides opportunities for its users to expand how they interact. The Court has liaised extensively with the legal profession on the roll out, conducting information and training sessions in each state and territory.
The Federal Court was one of the first in Australia to introduce electronic lodgement of documents (e-Lodgment) and this system has been expanded to accommodate the ECF.
Mr Soden said the transition from paper-based to digital court files means information will be provided in an easily accessible and searchable format.
“Traditionally a matter begins when documents are prepared and physically taken to the registry counter where they are processed by staff. This can be complicated and time consuming, especially if the registry is not close by.”
“eLodgment allows documents to be lodged at any time and – subject to compliance – the Court will accept and acknowledge receipt promptly during the day.” Once accepted, an electronic court file allows these documents to be viewed within the Court instantly.
Gradually it will also bring changes to the court room with practitioners changing from using paper files to electronic documents. Eventually trolleys loaded with large files cluttering court rooms will become a thing of the past, as will practitioners having to thumb their way through piles of paper to find the right document.
“The ECF will streamline the way in which the Court operates, allowing users to focus on what matters most – resolving differences as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible,” he said.
Further details, including a short video, can be found on the court’s website: www.fedcourt.gov.au
Media contact: Bruce Phillips 0386003270, 0419341506
Benefits to Court Users
The Court's existing eLodgment system is the means by which documents will be placed on the ECF. eLodgment has been expanded as part of the roll out of the ECF system.
The benefits for Court users include:
- expansion to the options eLodgment offers including the ability to flag urgent, exparte hearing, confidential or suppressed documents
- ability to provide the Court with the version number of amended documents
- ability to request a listing date
- ability to lodge case administration documents such as correspondence, draft orders and consent orders
The benefits for the Court users where there is an electronic court file:
- automatic acceptance of supporting documents. Where an electronic court file exists most documents that are eLodged will be stamped with the seal of the Court and returned to the eLodger within minutes. Case administration documents such as consent orders or correspondence will be stamped received and also returned to the eLodger within minutes
- increasing the range of documents available for view by authorised users on the Commonwealth Court's Portal
- documents filed will be available promptly (twice a business day) on the Commonwealth Courts Portal and stamped orders will be available instantly.
The benefits for the Court include:
- immediate access to the court file and the documents on it, by different authorised people within the Court at the same time
- increased efficiency in case management as the Court eliminates time spent retrieving court files or documents
- eliminating the opportunities for lost or incomplete paper files
- reduction in ongoing storage and archiving costs as the Court is required to maintain certain Court records in perpetuity.
4 December 2014