The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has recently changed the way it deals with less complex property and financial cases in Family Law, by introducing the Priority Property Pool Regime.
What is the PPP500 Regime?
The Priority Property Pools under $500,000 regime (PPP500 regime) is a case allocation program to assist parties to resolve their claims via Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) at the earliest opportunity. If ADR is unsuccessful, then the PPP500 regime allows for a less adversarial style of trial.
What cases are eligible for the PPP500 regime?
The PPP500 regime applies to property and financial cases issued in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia after 1 March 2020 where:
- the value of the net property of the parties (including superannuation interests) is (or appears to be) under $500,000; and
- there are no entities (such as a family trust, company, or self-managed superannuation fund) owned or in the effective control of either party that might require valuation or expert investigation; or
- the Court makes a declaration or notation that the case is designated as a PPP500 case.
What cases are not eligible for the PPP500 regime?
The PPP500 regime will not apply in:
- cases where parenting orders are sought;
- cases where parenting and financial (property and/or spousal maintenance or other financial) orders are sought together;
- Child support cases;
- Child maintenance cases;
- Contravention applications; and
- Enforcement applications.
How does the PPP500 regime work?
The PPP500 regime consists of two limbs, comprising 6 steps. The first limb is a Registrar-led phase where a Registrar of the Court directs the parties to do specific things to ensure they are ready for Alternative Dispute Resolution. This assists the parties to reach agreement, in the shortest possible time. The second limb is a Judge led phase and occurs only if the matter has not already settled in the Registrar led phase. The Judge led phase involves applying procedurally simpler processes to arrive at the phase where the Judge is ready to make a determination.
The aim of the PP500 regime is to quickly identify and narrow the issues in dispute and assist parties to undertake ADR at the earliest opportunity. If ADR is unsuccessful, then the PPP500 regime provides an opportunity for a less adversarial trial based on the documents filed rather than by examination and cross examination of witnesses.
What are the benefits of the PPP500 regime?
The regime is designed to achieve a just, efficient and timely resolution, at a cost to the parties that is reasonable and proportionate to the value of the assets in dispute in the case. Whether the PPP500 regime will work in this way and what constitutes reasonable and proportionate costs remains to be seen.
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