Conferencing in the ACT Magistrates Court
What is conferencing?
Conferencing is a method of resolving disputes.
Instead of an application to the court or tribunal being heard by a Magistrate or Tribunal Member, a Registrar will meet with both parties (sometimes separately and sometimes together, depending on the nature of the matter – see below) to discuss the application and see if the parties can come to an agreement themselves.
The Registrar may set deadlines for things to be completed and suggest ways to help the matter resolve as quickly as possible.
The preliminary conference will try to:
- Identify facts that both parties agree upon;
- Identify the issues that both parties do not agree upon; and,
- Identify any unusual or urgent issues that require special attention.
The objects, or goals, of the Conference are to:
- find out whether a matter can be settled by the parties;
- work out the issues to be decided if the matter is to heard by a Magistrate or Tribunal member; and,
- ensure that the parties are taking the necessary steps to allow the proceeding to be heard quickly.
How does conferencing work?
In domestic violence, personal and workplace protection matters, the Registrar meets the parties in separate rooms and shuttles backwards and forwards between the two parties to find common ground.
In care and protection matters relating to children, commercial lease matters, criminal injury compensation and taxation matters, all parties meet with a Registrar to discuss the matters together.
What are the benefits of conferencing?
Conferencing is a free service that allows parties to understand each other’s issues. It allows the parties to ask questions and understand the process. It also resolves a high amount of disputes by way of agreement, reducing the number of matters that need to go before a court or tribunal.