District Court of Western Australia

Notice to Practitioners

CPC 4 has been amended and reissued today.

For the purposes of RSC O 36B r 8B(3A)(b), approval is given to file, via the ECMS, a written request to set aside the whole or part of a subpoena to produce.

That standing approval, which incorporates the conditions upon which it is prefaced, is set out in CPC 4.6.6.

 

Dated 16 February 2024

Dr Brenda McGivern
Principal Registrar of the District Court

Pursuant to Rule 8(1)(e) of the District Court Rules 2005, the Chief Judge directs that applications for leave to compromise an action pursuant to Order 70 rule 10 and Order 70 r 11of the Rules of the Supreme Court 1971:

  1. must be dealt with by a judge if the damages sum proposed to be awarded is over $250,000; and
  2. may otherwise be dealt with by a registrar.

Any previous direction made in relation to registrars' power to deal with such applications is revoked.

 

Dated 6 February 2024

Her Honour Judge Julie Wager
Chief Judge of the District Court

Amendments to the District Court Rules 2005 (DCR), which came into effect this month, introduced some significant changes for subpoenas issued in civil proceedings.

Related Practice Directions (specifically, PDC 4) and Circulars to Practitioners (specifically, CPC 4) have also been amended and reissued.

Notable changes include that:

  • The DCR amendments, along with changes to the ECMS functionality, now facilitate (in certain circumstances) compliance with subpoenas to produce documents or things by uploading electronic copies to the ECMS.
  • Subpoenas generated by the ECMS on or after 15 January 2024 will have a document reference and will annex lodging instructions for this purpose.
  • From a functional perspective, ECMS production will not be available in relation to subpoenas issued before 15 January 2024, or for certain file types and sizes.
  • The DCR expressly contemplate that the Court may give directions in relation to compliance with a subpoena. PDC 4 contains directions that deal with compliance, and which respond to the functional constraints noted above.
  • Any person who inspects or copies a subpoenaed document or thing:
    • is subject to an obligation under the DCR equivalent to the 'Harman obligation' attaching to discovered documents; and
    • must, as a condition of access, sign an acknowledgement to that effect.
  • The DCR now clarify that restrictions regarding access to documents or things produced by a health practitioner apply only if the documents or things comprise the health information of the plaintiff.

 

Dated 29 January 2024

Her Honour Judge Julie Wager
Chief Judge of the District Court

Dr Brenda McGivern
Principal Registrar of the District Court

Amendments to the District Court Rules 2005 (DCR)

On 21 December 2023, the District Court Amendment Rules 2023 were made and published, and those amendments will take effect from 15 January 2024.

Notable changes include that:

  1. a form for appeals against the decision of a registrar is prescribed (DCR r 15; Form 6A);
  2. registrars may make orders at mediation conferences giving effect to mediated outcomes, including outcomes that do not finally dispose of the action (DCR r 35AA);
  3. full certificates of counsel must always be filed before a listing conference, and the requirements for pleadings certificates are broadened (DCR r 43);
  4. an addressee may comply with a subpoena to produce documents by uploading them in electronic format via the ECMS (DCR r 48AD) - in line with this amendment, from 15 January 2024, there will be ECMS functionality facilitating the production of documents in answer to a subpoena (and guidance to addressees on the use of that functionality will be published); and
  5. all persons having access to subpoenaed materials are subject to an obligation of non-disclosure of the kind that attaches to discovery (DCR r 48AI).

Abuse Claims List

Further, following consultation with members of the profession, the District Court is introducing a dedicated case management list for historical child sexual abuse claims and claims under the National Redress Scheme (collectively, 'abuse claims').

Re-issue of Circulars to Practitioners

In line with those developments, the Circulars to Practitioners are to be re-issued, the substantive changes to which include:

  1. updated guidance reflecting the DCR amendments;
  2. practices and objectives relevant to the introduction of the abuse claims list; and
  3. reviewed and refined Usual Orders.

 

Dated 9 January 2024

Her Honour Judge Julie Wager
Chief Judge of the District Court

Dr Brenda McGivern
Principal Registrar of the District Court

Practitioners will be aware that, on 21 September 2023, the Court reissued its Circulars to Practitioners - Civil (CPC).

Practitioners' attention is drawn, in particular, to CPC 2.5.5 which reads:

Any interlocutory applications made within 12 weeks of first date allocated for trial will be dealt by the TLJ or trial Judge. Any party lodging such an application must, upon filing a chamber summons and selecting a hearing date in the ECMS, notify the Court in writing that the application should be listed before a Judge on an urgent basis. The notification to the court should be by a letter lodged in ECMS against the action.

If you lodge an application in an action listed for trial, please ensure that CPC 2.5.5 is complied with, so that the Court can list the application before a trial list judge as soon as possible.

 

Dated 10 October 2023

Her Honour Judge Julie Wager
Chief Judge of the District Court

Dr Brenda McGivern
Principal Registrar of the District Court

Practice Directions (PDs) are issued by the Chief Judge and supplement the procedures set out in the Rules of Court. They impose obligations on the parties and their lawyers.

Circulars to Practitioners (CPs) are issued by the Principal Registrar and provide guidance about the practice of the Court.

The Court has undertaken a review of the form and content of its PDs and CPs and has resolved to:

  1. issue PDs and CPs separately;
  2. restructure each of PDs and CPs into three broad groups: General (applicable to civil and criminal proceedings), Civil (applicable to civil proceedings only) and Criminal (applicable to criminal proceedings only); and
  3. publish, as a separate CP, the 'usual orders' of the Court.

These instruments, together with associated forms and annexures, will be available on the Court's website. Any revisions made from time to time will be recorded in a table of amendments.

With the publication of the revised PDs and CPs today, all former practice directions and circulars to practitioners are revoked.

 

Dated 21 September 2023

Her Honour Judge Julie Wager
Chief Judge of the District Court

Dr Brenda McGivern
Principal Registrar of the District Court

This Circular relates to attendance by counsel, solicitors, and parties at pre-trial conferences and mediations and supersedes the previous Circular issued on 8 March 2022.

As you are aware, Circular to Practitioners (CP) 15 and CP 16 refer to the personal attendance of parties at mediations and pre-trial conferences. Where such attendance is not possible then a dispensation is to be sought.

Further, pursuant to Public Notice 5 of 2022 - COVID-19, issued by the Chief Judge on 9 June 2022:

  • Counsel must appear in person at all pre-trial conferences and mediations, unless otherwise ordered by a judge or registrar.
  • In all cases, however, any person who has tested positive for COVID-19 is the past 7 days, or who has COVID-19 symptoms, must not enter the Court building. In those circumstances, the following will apply:

Attendance at pre-trial conferences and mediations

All pre-trial conferences and mediations are to proceed at the time allotted to them.

If, pursuant to Public Notice 5, a party or counsel is prohibited from attending the Court in person, counsel must as soon as practicable advise the associate to the presiding registrar (or, if the presiding registrar is unknown, then advise by email at Associate.Principal.RegistrarDC@justice.wa.gov.au) so that arrangements may be made for attendance by video or audio link (or as otherwise directed by the presiding registrar).

Participants are requested to familiarise themselves with the Recommended Practice for Remote Hearings.

Subject only to a contrary order or direction of the Court, parties and counsel who are not prohibited (under Public Notice 5) from entering the Court must attend in person.

Whether or not alternative arrangements for attendance are made, the usual rules of mediation will apply.

Pre-trial conferences - where a registrar is required

Where all parties have negotiated and have reached an impasse, or the assistance of a Registrar is required (for example, where the parties are seeking a Listing Conference), then:

  • if a legal representative of one or more parties is in attendance, the assistance of a registrar may (in the usual way) be sought at the pre-trial conference desk;
  • if, by reason of Public Notice 5, no legal representatives are permitted to attend in person, then a solicitor nominated by all other parties is to telephone the pre-trial conference desk on 9425 2793, advising that the assistance of a Registrar is required.

In the latter case:

  • the nominated solicitor is to provide the email addresses of each of the participants of the pre-trial conference;
  • each participant will receive a MS Teams meeting request via email from the Associate to the Registrar assigned to the pre-trial conference;
  • participants join the MS Teams meeting by clicking on the link to join the meeting; and
  • the Registrar will then link into the MS Teams meeting to facilitate the conference.

Where the matter is resolved at a pre-trial conference

Where the matter is resolved, the parties are to file settlement paperwork through the ECMS (eCourts Portal).  Settlement paperwork must be filed on the same day as the pre-trial conference to enable Court record to be updated.

Where the parties agree to adjourn the Pre-Trial Conference

If the parties agree to adjourn the pre-trial conference, a nominated party is to file a letter outlining the agreed adjournment date, or, where a date is not agreed, provide unavailable dates for the parties. The letter is to be filed through the ECMS.

The letter must be filed on the same day as the pre-trial conference to enable the Court record to be updated.

The Court will advise the parties in the event a proposed adjournment date is unavailable. Otherwise, the parties will receive confirmation of the new date through the ECMS.

If the adjournment is because of an application for leave to compromise is to be filed, then CP 17 - Finalisation of Actions Requiring Court Approval applies.

Principal Registrar McGivern
3 August 2022

Summary: The purpose of this Notice is to inform the profession of the Court’s intention to remove anonymization of parties’ names from cases involving allegations of historic sexual abuse where anonymization has occurred in the absence of an order.

Background

A practice has developed in the Court in cases commenced by originating summons and writs alleging historic sexual abuse, of anonymising the names of plaintiffs in the absence of a formal application. This practice has recently been reviewed and by Notice to Practitioners dated 4 October 2019 the profession was advised that as of 4 October 2019 a formal order from the court would be required if anonymization was sought.

Consistently with that background it is considered that a formal order is also required respect of those cases commenced before the 4 October 2019 and in respect of which anonymization of the party’s name has already occurred.

Current position

Accordingly the profession is advised that from 1 December 2019 the court record will reveal the full name of a party unless an order has been made. It will remain open to the parties to seek the appropriate order by filing a memorandum of consent pursuant to RSC Order 43 r.16.

Shane Melville
Principal Registrar
30 October 2019

The Court is to issue a new Practice Direction/Circular to Practitioners in the coming days regarding the process to be followed to have a plaintiff’s name anonymised in a civil action.

As from today, any plaintiff who wishes their name to be anonymised must seek a formal order from the court to do so. Any application is to be filed with an affidavit in support pursuant to Order 67B rule 5 of the Rules of the Supreme Court. Any application should preferably be made prior to the filing of the writ or at the time of filing the writ.

The Practice Direction/Circular to Practitioner will be available on the Court’s website www.districtcourt.wa.gov.au in the coming days.

Jacquie Kubacz
Acting Principal Registrar
4 October 2019


Last updated: 19-Feb-2024

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