Increase in Filing Fees in the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia

Karina Ralston

As outlined previously, the Federal Circuit and Family Court fee increases that were intended to commence on 1 July 2015 under Schedule 2 of the Federal Courts Legislation Amendment (Fees) Regulation 2015 were disallowed by the Senate on 25 June 2015.

Despite this, the Government has sought to again increase the filing fees by introducing the Family Law (Fees) Amendment (2015 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2015. The Regulation is made under section 125 of the Family Law Act and section 120 of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act, under which the Governor-General has the authority to make regulations.

The Regulation will amend the Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012 to:

The Regulation has been introduced to put the Courts “on a sustainable financial footing.” The Explanatory Memorandum stated that had the fees not increased the “only alternatives would be to cut frontline court services, close registries and not replace judges, which would severely undermine access to justice.”

It would also appear that the increase in fees is hoped to deter matters which may otherwise resolve without the need for Court intervention, thus reducing the number of filings and workload of each Court, with the Explanatory Memorandum also stating that: “The basis on which the amended fees are calculated is to better reflect the cost of providing court services for private matters where there often may be little public interest at stake, and reinforce the message to litigants that early dispute resolution is encouraged (where appropriate) and courts should be considered a last resort. Full or partial waivers of fees will continue to apply to vulnerable litigants, including reduced fees for divorce applications.”

The Regulation came into effect on 13 July 2015 and the new fees are now applicable in all Registries.

View the updated fees for the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia.