The Federal Court of Australia recently announced an insurance list as part of the National Court Framework (NCF)1.

The NCF

The ongoing NCF reforms, run by Chief Justice Allsop, are part of the Federal Court’s commitment to promote flexibility, efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the digital era. The major part of the project is to the establish a number of specialist National Practice Areas within the court to facilitate a more tailored approach to case management. There are 20 judges listed in the primary sub area of Commercial Contracts, Banking, Finance and Insurance under the Commercial and Corporations National Practice Area. The insurance list is within the Commercial Contracts, Banking, Finance and Insurance sub-area of the Commercial and Corporations National Practice Area.

The insurance short matters list

The aim of the insurance list is to provide to the insurance commercial community (underwriters, reinsurers, brokers and insureds) a list which caters for the prompt and efficient resolution of legal issues to enable the parties to resolve their disputes without the need for lengthy hearings. The list is not intended to deal with all insurance claims, but principally short matters – matters which can be resolved in a hearing time of no more than two hours, of policy interpretation and matters concerning the operation of insurance legislation.

The list will be held on a regular basis in such registries as have appropriate matters filed for hearing. The list will be called over at 12 noon on a nominated day and will run to 5pm on the following day. If necessary, once called over, matters may be given a special fixture outside the list days.

The list will provide a regular availability of hearing times for short matters. They will be arranged expeditiously before judges of the Commercial Contracts, Banking, Finance and Insurance sub-area of the Commercial and Corporations National Practice Area and will not need to wait a Full Court sitting period.

Marine and non-marine insurance

The list will cover marine as well as non-marine insurance matters commenced in the Federal Court or matters within the court’s jurisdiction, which extends to marine insurance pursuant to the court’s admiralty and maritime authority, and to non-marine insurance disputes where an element of the claim arises under Commonwealth legislation such as the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth).

Once the matter is in federal jurisdiction, any question in the matter can be heard in the Federal Court, including any question such as the construction of an insurance policy that does not itself raise any issue of a federal statute.

Commencement of the list

The list will commence on 10 and 11 March 2015 in Melbourne and be called over in the following cities on the following dates:

Sydney: 21 and 22 March

Perth: 5 and 6 April

Brisbane: 19 and 20 April

Adelaide: 26 and 27 April