The Civil Disputes Resolution Act 2011 (Cth) is expected to come into effect by no later than 13 October 2011. This Act will affect all litigation instituted in the Federal Court or the Federal Magistrates Court, unless expressly excluded.

The new legislation is to encourage parties in dispute to attempt to resolve their disputes prior to litigating in court.  

Under the Act litigants are required to take genuine steps to resolve civil disputes before proceedings are commenced. The Act does not outline a procedure for taking genuine steps, but they are considered to be sincere and genuine attempts to resolve the dispute, having regard to the person’s circumstances and the nature and circumstances of the dispute.

Under the Act, Applicants are required to file a genuine steps statement, at the time of filing their originating application, summarising their genuine steps taken to resolve the dispute. Prior to the commencement of proceedings the Respondent must also file a genuine steps statement summarising what steps they have made to resolve the dispute. Non-compliance by the applicant will not prevent an applicant instituting proceeding or continuing if the Respondent fails to file a statement. However, the court will take non-compliance into consideration when exercising its powers and performing functions as well as in its discretion to award costs.