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Reforming urgent business before the Court
29 February 2016
It is often a necessary part of litigation that urgent applications are made to the Court at the beginning of, or during, proceedings to preserve the rights of parties or compel the undertaking of an action. Common examples include applications for injunctions, restraining orders, asset freezing orders and for the removal of caveats over property. There can be significant consequences for affected people if such applications are unable to be heard and determined quickly.
Historically, all urgent business in the Supreme Court of Victoria has been heard by a trial judge sitting in the Practice Court. Parties wishing to bring an urgent application would contact the Court’s Practice Court Coordinator and a date and hearing time would be allocated.
In 2014, the Trial Division of the Court was restructured and the Commercial Court created as a new division of the Court. As a result, urgent business coming into the Practice Court that was of a commercial nature began being referred to be heard by a specialised Commercial Court judge.
Since then, both the Common Law Division and the Commercial Court have moved towards a judicial case-management structure through the development of specialist lists. Urgent business has, where possible, been referred to the judge in charge of the relevant specialist list. The publication of two new Notices to the Profession regarding urgent Court business, one for the Common Law Division and the other for the Commercial Court, seek to formalise these arrangements.
From 29 February 2016, the Practice Court (Common Law) will only hear genuinely urgent and certain other applications in proceedings brought in the Common Law Division. Enquiries should continue to be directed to the Practice Court Coordinator. Urgent commercial applications will be dealt with according to different procedures, including via contact with the Commercial Court Registry and hearing before the Commercial Court Duty Judge.
The changes in the Common Law Division and Commercial Court and formalisation of practices regarding urgent Court business, are designed to take greater advantage of the specialist expertise of the Court, facilitate the expeditious resolution of cases, and reduce the costs of litigation.