Federal Court of Australia - Goals, Performance Measures, Strategies & Priorities

Corporate Plan 2016 - 2020

Federal Court of Australia Goals

The FCA's goals are based on three strategies that will guide our operations over the next four years. Our performance against this plan will be reported in the Annual Performance Statement in our Annual Report.

This plan reflects both the purpose and goals of the Court, our vision and our culture of relentless improvement.

The Court has a track record of innovation and forward thinking. A number of long-term projects aligned to these strategies were initiated in the 2014–15 plan year and will continue throughout this plan year. These include international projects led by the judiciary, evolving the reforms of the National Court Framework and the implementation of Digital Hearings.

Our strategies for the next four years are:

    1. Efficient and just dispute resolution
    2. Provide leadership on international jurisprudence, and
    3. Contribute to the Australian legal system – strengthen relations with court users.


Performance Measures

The key outcome measure for the Court is contained in the Portfolio Budget Statements. Across its jurisdiction, the Court will apply and uphold the rule of law for litigants in the Federal Court of Australia and parties in the National Native Title Tribunal through the resolution of matters according to law and through the effective management of the administrative affairs of the Court and the NNTT.

The Court maintains two time goals to measure the performance of its work. All strategies and tactical plans are designed to support the achievement of these performance goals.

Our Annual Performance Statement will report on the success of the plan to achieve the following targets:

    1. Eighty-five per cent of cases completed within 18 months of commencement, and
    2. Judgments to be delivered within three months.


1.  Strategic Objective - Efficient and just dispute resolution

The Court began the process of reinvigorating its case management approach in 2015 with the introduction of the National Court Framework (NCF). The NCF is an innovative approach to case management, involving the development of an ideal structure to facilitate the delivery of quality judgments, by experienced judges, in a timely manner and for a reasonable cost. It is consistent with our vision to build an internationally respected court.

The initial reforms of the NCF were implemented during 2015–16. As a result, the Court’s entire workload has been reorganised and is now managed with reference to eight National Practice Areas (NPAs). A new national allocation system has been implemented where the work of judges has been realigned under these practice areas. This year, new practice notes will be promulgated as part of our strategy to simplify practices and procedures.

Digital Hearings (previously known as eTrials) are a further initiative by the Court to provide efficient and just dispute resolution and to reduce litigation costs.

A successful pilot for Digital Hearings was conducted during 2015–16. The pilot studied how judges and litigants interact digitally in the courtroom and identified the workflows necessary to support these interactions.

Based on the success of this pilot, the next phase of Digital Hearings will be implemented during 2016–17. Consultations have commenced with key stakeholders about the changes.

The Court will continue to develop its business intelligence work with the overall aim of turning the Court’s data into information that can better inform the Court’s administrative decisions.

Our strategies over the next four years are to:

    1. Restructure the Court and the system of allocation and management of matters to ensure efficiency and national consistency
    2. Create nationally consistent practices and procedures
    3. Further develop real time business intelligence reporting to monitor and manage workloads for the judiciary and registry, and
    4. Implement Digital Hearings.

Priorities for the 2016–17 plan year

In the 2016–17 plan year we will undertake the following projects and deliverables:

Objective or Project



Continue the reforms of the NCF
  • Promulgate new practice notes.
September 2016
  • Create user groups for each NPA.
January 2017
  • Mature the reforms of the NCF.
June 2017

Implement stage two for Digital Hearings

  • Develop the mechanism that forms the basis of Digital Hearings.
June 2017
  • Pilot the mechanism across several NPAs.
June 2017
  • Continue consultations with the legal profession about the ideal operational practices and processes.

Implement real time business intelligence reporting to monitor and manage workloads for the judiciary

  • Continue to develop reports that allow the Court to drill down into specific aspects of its data.

December 2016

  • Develop a greater understanding of the data and build models that can show resourcing implications.
June 2017

Streamline systems and processes

  • Introduce the national manual which details the Court’s standards for working with Electronic Court Files.
August 2016
  • Initiate digital automation projects that allow court user self-service.
September 2016
  • Improve a number of identified eServices to make them more integrated, increase our efficiency and enhance the court user experience.
June 2017


2.  Strategic Objective - Provide leadership in international jurisprudence

The Court’s judicial officers are recognised as thought leaders in international jurisprudence. The Court’s international programs support our vision to become internationally respected by promoting judicial independence and developing judicial services, with particular emphasis on Asia and the Pacific regions.

The Court’s international development projects are funded externally by a range of donors including the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the United Nations Development Programme. This funding is separate to the FCA’s budget process.

This strategy also recognises the need to position the Court to respond to growth in global trade and the rapid expansion of economies in the region by building Australia’s international reputation as a centre of the rule of law and of efficient and just resolution of disputes. In particular, the projected increase in commercial activity resulting from the Free Trade Agreements between China and Japan has the potential to lead to an increase in disputes. The Court is cognisant of the potential for a greater workload in this area of law.

The Court achieves this strategic objective by working closely with international jurisdictions and developing relationships with our international counterparts. This includes hosting international delegations, as well as our international development and cooperation program where we partner with judiciaries around the world.

We currently have Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with international courts in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. In 2016, we entered into a new MOU with Myanmar.

In addition, we manage the Pacific Judicial Strengthening Initiative involving 14 other Pacific countries. In 2016, we were successful in winning the contract through MFAT to conduct this program for the next five years. The program is designed to strengthen governance and the rule of law by enhancing the professional competence of judicial and court officers, along with the processes and systems that they use. Over the years, it has transitioned from a regional training and capacity building program, to a targeted development project based on improving law and justice outcomes for beneficiaries at local, regional and national levels.

Priorities for the 2016–17 year include further work on existing MOUs with international courts, as well as continue the work of building understanding of global legal issues, in particular Regional Maritime Dispute Centres.

Our strategies over the next four years are to:

    1. Enhance the professional competence of judicial and court officers through international collaboration and cooperation
    2. Identify areas of thought leadership in international jurisprudence, and
    3. Develop a regional initiative for Maritime Disputes.


3.  Strategic Objective - Contribute to the Australian legal system – strengthen relations with court users

This strategy takes into account the changing needs and expectations of court users and the wider choices available through digital technologies. In this respect, we will be guided by the Government’s Digital Transformation Agenda announced in the May 2015 Budget.

We will continue to create user-focused services that overcome barriers created by geography, culture, language and socioeconomic circumstances.

The Court aims to develop innovative approaches to meet the needs of court users and improve access to justice. These approaches extend to the communication channels we use, as well as providing procedures which are clear, consistent and understandable. Our web strategy has been crucial to the achievement of this goal. In the next year, we will identify additional services and technologies to ensure that our digital communications are more intuitive and responsive to the needs of different court users.

The Court also engages in a wide range of activities with the legal profession and community that support the Australian legal system. Last year, the Court’s judicial officers contributed to the work of law reform bodies as well as educational and legal community-based organisations. This work ensures that the Court develops positive relationships with, and gains the support of, the legal sector and the Australian public. The Court also provides opportunities for members of the legal profession to discuss existing and emerging issues, provide feedback to the Court and act as a reference group for proposed changes. It is essential to the Court’s and the Australian legal system’s reputation nationally and internationally, that these relationships continue.

Our strategies over the next four years are to:

    1. Contribute to the legal profession through liaison and education
    2. Collaborate with members of the judiciary and legal sector on initiatives of mutual interest and benefit
    3. Maintain effective media relations to deliver timely public information, and
    4. Strengthen connections with the Australian community.

Priorities for the 2016–17 plan year

In the 2016–17 plan year, we will undertake the following projects and deliverables:

Objective or Project



Communication strategy for court user education
  • Develop tailored resources and educational materials via different channels to assist the court users.
Continued enhancement of our online strategy
  • Develop a road map for web and digital services for the next two years.
June 2017
  • Align digital services with the Digital Transformation Agenda.
June 2017
Contribute to the legal profession through consultation and educational services
  • Consult with educational providers and professional bodies to identify needs.
  • Develop and deliver seminars, lectures and training to improve access to justice, education on new services and other topics of relevance.
Consult with the profession
  • Conduct regular forums with the profession to identify needs and receive feedback.