The Federal Court of Australia have implemented various changes to their procedures in response to COVID-19. Several material changes were outlined in a Special Measures Information Note titled ‘Special Measures in Response to COVID-19‘ (SMIN-1), released by the Federal Court on 31 March 2020. One of the most significant changes relates to signatures on documents and affidavits. Provision 4 of SMIN-1 announced that to facilitate electronic filing of all documents, the Court will temporarily allow people to sign documents electronically (i.e. type their name into the signature block). In addition, the Court will accept filing of unsworn affidavits, on the understanding that the affidavits may be sworn later, when circumstances allow.

Other material changes to Federal Court procedures are as follows:

  • Remote registry services (telephone and online) – SMIN-1 (2)
  • Documents must be lodged for filing online – SMIN-1 (3)
  • Inspection of documents at Court registries is by appointment only and appointments to view subpoenaed materials should only be requested if truly necessary for the conduct of the proceeding at the time (the Court will consider the urgency of the matter) – SMIN-1 (5)
  • As far as possible, alternative arrangements (i.e. using remote access technology) will be put in place for all listings and events which would ordinarily require in person attendance. The Court will contact practitioners and parties to determine alternative arrangements. If alternative arrangements are not possible, listings and events will be generally be vacated or adjourned – SMIN-1 (7)
  •  The Court will seek to accommodate short listings/events (half day or less) remotely – SMIN-1 (9)
  • Longer listings/events will undergo a triage and prioritisation process to determine how and when they may be able to proceed – SMIN-1 (10)
  • All hearings are proceeding using remote access technology such as Microsoft Teams and telephone conferencing – SMIN-1 (11)

Our team at M+E are well equipped to navigate the new online court procedures being adopted in NSW. Contact us for further information or assistance.


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