Commencement of Commercial & Corporations National Practice Area (NPA)

The Court began implementing the National Court Framework (NCF) with the commencement of the Commercial and Corporations National Practice Area (NPA) on Monday 16 February 2015.

The operation of the Commercial and Corporations NPA will be consistent across the Court nationally. This includes the following key features:

  • A dedicated group of Judges with expertise in the Commercial and Corporations NPA will be allocated Commercial and Corporations matters. A comprehensive list of all Commercial and Corporations NPA Judges Nationally and in each Registry is available on the Court's website. 
  • An initial case management hearing will take place in the case management of all Commercial and Corporations matters to ensure that the matter is case managed efficiently, with a focus on minimising the areas of dispute, minimising discovery and evidence processes, and ensuring the matter is ready for trial at the earliest appropriate time;
  • The Court expects all parties and practitioners, in accordance with the overarching purpose set out in the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (ss 37M and 37N), to participate in the case management of Commercial and Corporations matters so as they will be dealt with as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible. This includes participating in good faith in alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediations and confidential conferences, which the Court will actively encourage and facilitate;
  • Commercial and Corporations Duty processes will now take place by practitioners liaising with Commercial and Corporations Duty Judge’s Chambers directly, to ensure that genuinely urgent matters are heard by dedicated Commercial and Corporations Duty Judges as soon as practicable and with a view to addressing the special issues arising in each matter and the needs of the parties. Self-represented litigants will be directed to the registry NCF Co-ordinator, rather than dealing directly with Judge’s Chambers, in order to assist them through the application process efficiently.

The Commercial and Corporations National Practice Area

Within the NCF’s Commercial and Corporations NPA, there are six ‘sub-areas’. The Commercial and Corporations NPA and sub-areas are described below:

Commercial and Corporations Practice Area

 

Commercial disputes and matters relating to corporations, including:

  • Commercial contract disputes.
  • Disputes concerning the conduct of corporations and their officers.
  • Financial and transactional disputes.
  • Insurance disputes.
  • All insolvency matters, both corporate and personal.
  • Commercial class actions.
  • Consumer claims (including Regulator claims).
  • Competition matters (including Economic Regulator-related matters).
  • International commercial arbitration disputes.

 

Commercial and Corporations NPA sub-areas

General Areas of Law

Commercial Contracts, Banking, Finance and Insurance
  • Commercial contracts and matters relating to insurance, banking, finance and commercial transactional disputes.
Corporations and Corporate Insolvency

Corporations List and Duty matters, including:

  • The appointment or conduct of liquidators.
  • Corporate insolvency matters, such as voidable transactions, extending of convening periods and cross border insolvency.
  • Schemes of Arrangement.
  • Shareholder oppression actions.
  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission actions, such as the approval of director appointments, winding up of companies, fundraising matters, corporate management and misconduct by company officers.
  • Corporations matters referred to a Judge by a Registrar.
General and Personal Insolvency
  • Personal insolvency matters, including applications by trustees in the management of bankrupt estates, applications by bankrupts contesting decisions of a trustee and applications for annulment of bankruptcy.
  • Bankruptcy matters referred to a Judge by a Registrar.
Regulator and Consumer Protection
  • Consumer-related matters such as misleading and deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct, unfair commercial practices, product liability matters and false advertising.
  • Australian Consumer Law actions by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Economic Regulator, Competition and Access
  • Matters concerning anti-competitive conduct, including cartel matters (civil), mergers, misuse of market power and exclusive dealing.
  • Competition actions by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
  • Infrastructure access and regulatory pricing.
International Commercial Arbitration

Matters concerning international contractual disputes under the International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth), including:

  • Scope of jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal.
  • Stay applications and setting aside arbitral awards.
  • Enforcement of a foreign award or arbitral award.
  • Appointment or termination of appointment of an arbitrator.
  • Enforcement issues pursuant to the UNCITRAL Model Law.

Description of all National Practice Areas

Practice and procedure

A key component of the NCF is that new Practice Notes in all NPAs will be developed and circulated for consultation with the profession. In the meantime, and until the final Commercial and Corporations Practice Note is issued, practitioners should take account of the practice documents below when dealing with Commercial and Corporations matters within the Court nationally.

Interim Practice Note: NCF 1 - National Court Framework and Case Management
This Practice Note sets out the fundamental principles concerning the national framework of the Federal Court, together with key principles of case management procedure. This Practice Note is issued on an interim basis as part of the implementation of the Commercial and Corporations National Practice Area. The interim Practice Note should be read as applying only to the Commercial and Corporations NPA.

National Administrative Notice: NAT 1 - Commercial and Corporations National Practice Area
Practitioners should apply the principles and requirements set out in this National Administrative Notice when dealing with Commercial and Corporations matters within the Court nationally. The National Administrative Notice will remain in place until the final Commercial and Corporations NCF Practice Note is issued.

Other Related Practice Documents
The following existing Practice Notes continue to apply unaffected by the new practice documents:

Duty arrangements

Commercial and Corporations Duty matters will be heard by dedicated Commercial and Corporations Judges. Commercial and Corporations Duty Judges will be regularly available to the parties for genuinely urgent matters based on a regular roster system. A list of Commercial and Corporations Duty Judges is available on the Court's website.

Arrangements for hearing applications in respect of Commercial and Corporations Duty Judge matters should be made by practitioners directly with the Associate of the Commercial and Corporations Duty Judge and by self-represented litigants with the local NCF Co-ordinator.

Corporations List matters

All Registries Nationally will have a Corporations List and dedicated Corporations Judges. The Corporations List in each Registry will operate on consistent NCF principles for Corporations matters and according to the workflow and needs of the particular Registry.

Consultation

In March and April 2015, consultation forums were conducted with the profession across all Registries to discuss the implementation of the Commercial and Corporations NPA. 

Following the development of the draft Central Practice Note, draft Commercial & Corporations Practice Note and draft Class Actions Practice Note, further practitioners’ consultation forums are being conducted, commencing in Melbourne on 24 February 2016.

For further details see Draft Practice Notes & Consultation.

For further information

Subscribe to the Court's Practice News to received updates about the National Court Framework. For queries, please email query@fedcourt.gov.au.