Proctor : December 2017
22 PROCTOR | December 2017 Litigation in Queensland courts Reading list in Supreme and District Courts A reading list is the list of material (being anything filed or to be filed by leave) which your side intends to rely upon at the hearing of an interlocutory application. It can be contained in a separate document or appear at the commencement of the outline of argument. Two copies should be brought to court to hand up at the hearing. When you are preparing a reading list for an application in the Supreme Court1 and District Court,2 you should include the following information: • Identification of each document (for example, affidavit of Mr Smith). • Date on which the document was filed (not sworn). However, if the document has not been filed, the list should make it clear that leave is being sought to file that document at the hearing and, in that case, the date of the document should be stated (for example, affidavit of Mr Smith sworn 3 October 2017). • E court number – the e court number for each filed document is obtained from apps.courts.qld.gov.au/esearching/. Jurisdiction of the Federal Court When bringing proceedings in the Federal Court, you need to ensure that the Federal Court has jurisdiction in relation to the dispute. Section 39B(1A)(c) of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) confers3 on the Federal Court of Australia jurisdiction “in any matter arising under any laws made by the [Commonwealth] Parliament, other than a matter in respect of which a criminal prosecution is instituted or any other criminal matter”. A matter arises under a federal law and satisfies s39B(1A)(c) if the determination of the relevant controversy turns upon rights and duties that arise under a Commonwealth statute. 4 In this sense: • the “matter” takes in the whole controversy,5 including any alternative causes of action or additional claims not grounded in a Commonwealth statute except to the extent they are wholly separate such that they should properly be brought in different proceedings6 • the conferral of jurisdiction is valid even if all points concerning federal law are decided against the relevant plaintiff (or the point not considered because the matter can be decided on other grounds), provided that the claim in as far as it relates to a federal law discloses an arguable case. 7 Jurisdiction of the District Court When bringing proceedings in the District Court, you need to ensure that the District Court has jurisdiction in relation to the dispute. Your starting point will be to have regard to s 68 District Court of Queensland Act 1967 (Qld). Section 69 of that Act addresses the powers of the District Court. Depending on the nature of the dispute, you may also need to consider whether any relevant legislation confers jurisdiction on the District Court such as, for example, the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). It is critical to identify whether the District Court does or does not have jurisdiction before commencing proceedings, or when your client has been served with proceedings commenced in the District Court. Your client will not obtain the orders it seeks, or the orders sought will be able to be opposed successfully, if the court does not have jurisdiction. Further, if a proceeding is commenced in the Supreme Court when it ought to have been commenced in the District Court, this can impact on the costs to be awarded to the successful plaintiff by reason of rule 697 of the Uniform Civil Procedures Rules. Urgent applications The Federal Court’s website has a page dedicated to listings in the Queensland registry at fedcourt.gov.au/court-calendar/ daily-court-lists/qld. On each day and on this page, you will find the contact details of the associates of the judges hearing urgent matters (general duty) and urgent matters (commercial and corporations). You will also find the mobile number to call for urgent after hours applications. In the Supreme and District Court in Brisbane, the number to call for urgent hearings after hours is 3247 4771. Contact details for other courts in Queensland can be found at courts.qld.gov.au/contacts/ courthouses. The usual practice when seeking to bring an urgent application in the Supreme and District Courts during court hours is to contact the associate to the senior judge sitting in the Applications List listed for the day on which you wish to appear. The contact details of the associates to the judges can be found at courts.qld.gov.au. For example, see courts.qld.gov.au/ contacts/judiciary-contacts/judges-of- the-supreme-court. If that fails, contact the applications list manager on 3247 4310 (Supreme Court) or 3247 4421 (District Court). Pre-trial case management In the Federal Court, a case is assigned to a judge who oversees and manages the case and makes directions in order to progress the case to trial. This is known as the individual docket system. One real advantage of this system is that the case is assigned to a judge in the relevant national practice area or “NPA”. For each NPA, there is a dedicated group of judges with expertise in the area of law. The NPA is nominated by a party when filing, but this can be changed by the court. A second advantage is that the docket judge becomes familiar with the case which results in savings in time and cost because of fewer and shorter listings.