eCourtroom: Online Courtroom for Registered Users
eCourtroom is a an online courtroom used by Judges and Registrars to assist with the management and hearing of some matters before the Federal Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
Such matters include:
- ex parte applications for substituted service in bankruptcy proceedings
- applications for examination summonses
- giving of directions and other orders in general federal law matters
eCourtroom is integrated with eLodgment, providing parties with a link between eCourtroom and eLodgment to facilitate the electronic filing of documents.
A transcript facility provides a record of all messages posted by the presiding Judicial Officer and the parties in any matter that is conducted on eCourtroom. This transcript is viewable by parties as well as the public. However, documents posted or filed can be viewed by the parties to the action only, the Judicial Officer and other Court officers.
This Protocol sets out the rules for using eCourtroom.
1. The eCourtroom is a virtual courtroom
Conducting a matter using the eCourtroom is the equivalent of conducting a matter in an ordinary courtroom. This means:
- the eCourtroom must only be used for issues requiring consideration and determination by the Court or a Judge;
- the eCourtroom is not to be used for communications solely between the parties or their representatives, particularly where the communications are confidential or otherwise sensitive;
- the language and modes of address used on the eCourtroom must be same as that used if the matter were being dealt with an ordinary courtroom;
- undertakings given on the eCourtroom by a party or their representative to the Court or a Judge or other parties are binding as if the undertaking were given in an ordinary courtroom;
- the rules of contempt apply to proceedings conducted using the eCourtroom; and
- a copy of the discussion thread for each topic dealt with on the eCourtroom will, unless the Court or a Judge otherwise orders, be publicly available as read-only text on the Court's web site.
2. What matters may be dealt with on eCourtroom
Whether a matter, or part of a matter, is to be dealt with on the eCourtroom will be determined by the Court or a Judge having regard to such things as the nature and complexity of the issues to be resolved, the number of parties, the access of each party to email and the Internet, the views of the parties, the nature and extent of any evidence that may be required, and the urgency of the matter or part of a matter.
Termination of using the eCourtroom for a matter or particular topic: The Court or a Judge may terminate the use of the eCourtroom for a matter or part of matter at any time either on the Court or Judge's own motion or at the request of a party.
3. Login code
Each party or participant to the eCourtroom has their own account name and password. It is important that these details remain confidential and are kept in a secure place. The Court or a Judge will deem that messages and documents sent to the eCourtroom from a particular account have been sent by, and are the responsibility of, the person to whom that account was allocated.
4. Using the eCourtroom
The Court or a Judge may give directions as to how a matter, or part of a matter, will be conducted on the eCourtroom. For example, the Court or a Judge may give directions as to:
- the topic or topics to be dealt with on the eCourtroom;
- who may participate in the eCourtroom;
- the maximum length of messages and attachments; and
- the maximum time in which messages (including replies) must be sent to the eCourtroom.
Messages must be:
- relevant to the topic or discussion thread to which they are sent;
- brief and to the point; and
- Documents may be attached to messages sent to the eCourtroom. However, documents can not be filed in the Court using the eCourtroom. Documents can only be filed in accordance with Division 2.3 of the Federal Court Rules.
- In urgent matters, a document that is to be filed may be sent to the eCourtroom with an undertaking that it will be filed in the Court on the next business day.
- Where a message refers to a document that has been filed, a copy of the filed document may be attached to the message for ease of reference. In these cases the message should indicate the date on which the document was filed.
- Documents sent to the eCourtroom must be in Rich Text Format (RTF), Portable Document Format (PDF), Tagged Image Format (TIF), Graphical Information Format (GIF), Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPG) or Word.
Where the document sent to the eCourtroom is a draft consent order, the message to which the document is attached should include a certification by the sender that all the parties have seen, and agreed to, the terms of the consent order. Alternatively, a message seeking consent orders may attach:
- a copy of the orders to which the signature of each party or their representative has been affixed pursuant to Rule 39.11 of the Federal Court Rules; or
- a document that is an image of the signed consent orders.
Orders made by the Court or a Judge on the eCourtroom must be entered in the usual way under Division 39.31 of the Federal Court Rules.