As part of the National Court Framework reforms being undertaken by the Federal Court, which are aimed at reinvigorating its case management processes, the Federal Court of Australia has recently established an insurance list within the Commercial Contracts, Banking, Finance and Insurance sub-area of the Commercial and Corporations National Practice Area. Further information is available on the Federal Court’s website.

The insurance list will provide the opportunity to members of the insurance community to resolve discrete legal issues promptly and efficiently without the need for a full hearing. The list is not intended to deal with all insurance claims, but principally with short matters such as policy interpretation and matters concerning the operation of insurance legislation. It is intended that hearing of the matters on the list will take no more than two hours. The list will cover both marine and non-marine insurance.

The Federal Court has emphasised that a hearing may not resolve the totality of the particular dispute, but may provide a greater opportunity for the resolution of the balance of the dispute by agreement or mediation and also provide a streamlined and expeditious method of policy interpretation. 

The list will commence on 10 and 11 March 2016 in Melbourne and will initially be run by the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, His Honour Chief Justice Allsop. The list will then be called over in Sydney on 21 and 22 March, Perth on 5 and 6 April, Brisbane on 19 and 20 April and Adelaide on 26 and 27 April 2016. The list will be called over at midday on a nominated day and will run to 5pm on the following day. However, if necessary, once called over, matters may be heard outside the list days.

Practitioners who wish to file a matter for hearing, may submit a statement of no more than half a page outlining why the matter should be heard in the list. The Court will then make a decision as to the suitability of the matter for the list.