Efficient conduct of civil litigation
To ensure that civil claims in the Supreme Court are resolved quickly, fairly and at a minimum of expense, the Chief Justice of Queensland has issued Practice Direction 18 of 2018 .
The Practice Direction requires the parties to a claim to do certain things so that preparation for trial progresses quickly and efficiently and a mediation or trial proceeds in a cost-effective and well-organised way. The Plain English guide and the documents below are available to assist litigants and practitioners to comply with the Practice Direction requirements.
Example document plans
Once the claim is filed and served, the parties must discuss and agree on the types of documents to be disclosed and how they should be disclosed. The parties should record their agreement in a document plan (see example formats below):
Early in the claim the parties should discuss and agree on a timetable for the necessary steps to progress the claim to trial. See examples of the steps the parties may include in that timetable.
Communicating with the court
How should I communicate with the Resolution Registrar or with the Judge’s Associate?
All communication (apart from at court or in a conference) should be by email, with all parties included as recipients. Communications should generally only deal with matters that are not controversial, for example the parties may provide agreed versions of the Document plan, List of issues or Trial plan or a completed Questionnaire. They may explain why the documents have not yet been provided and request an extension of time. They may enquire about the scheduling of a case conference or a directions hearing. The Resolution Registrar and the Judges’ Associates are not permitted to give legal advice, and parties and legal representatives should not ask for such advice.
A party, or a party’s legal representatives, should not communicate with the Resolution Registrar or a Judge’s Associate without the prior knowledge and consent of the other parties to the claim. It is not enough to simply copy the other party into an email.
What if we can’t agree?
What if the parties cannot agree on a Document plan, a List of issues or a Trial plan?
If the parties believe that a conference will assist them to reach agreement, they should contact the Resolution Registrar by email to arrange a case conference. If the parties don’t agree that a conference will assist, and the claim is supervised by a Judge, they should email the Associate to that Judge, or the Case List Manager, to request a directions hearing. If the claim is not supervised by a Judge, one or other of the parties may file an interlocutory application, to be heard by a Judge in the Applications list.
What happens at a case conference?
The parties and/or their legal representatives meet with the Resolution Registrar in a conference room at the QEII Courts Complex to discuss the issues and attempt to reach agreement. Parties outside of the greater Brisbane area may participate in the conference by telephone. At the conference, the parties agree on a timetable for the conduct of future steps to be carried out in the claim.
Advising on the status of the claim
Six months after the Defence has been filed, the Supreme Court registry will email the parties and ask that they complete a Questionnaire with information about the progress of the claim. The parties will also be asked to provide copies of the draft List of issues and/or Trial plan. If these have not yet been prepared the parties should state what steps need to be carried out before the documents can be prepared and when these steps will be completed.
If there are some additional steps to be carried out, or if an existing timetable requires some changes, the parties should submit a draft order for directions in Word format with the completed Questionnaire (and a signed Consent where the matter is not subject to judicial supervision).