Consultation on the Draft New General Federal Law Rules and Practice Directions for the FCFCoA

18 March 2024

To coincide with the commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021 (Cth) (FCFCOA Act) on 1 September 2021, new rules and practice directions were introduced for family law proceedings and general federal law proceedings in the Court.

The current Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) (General Federal Law) Rules 2021 (Current GFL Rules) are based closely on the former Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 and incorporate a considerable number of the Federal Court Rules 2011 (FCA Rules) through a schedule. They also provide for referral to the FCA Rules where a matter is not addressed in the Current GFL Rules.

In the lead up to 1 September 2021, significant work was undertaken to harmonise the family law rules across the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 1) and the Court and to implement the new courts structure. In order to ensure a proper and comprehensive review could be undertaken, the Court decided that a standalone set of rules and practice directions for general federal law proceedings would be developed post 1 September 2021.

A Working Group chaired by Deputy Chief Judge Mercuri, three senior general federal law judges and a retired judge was subsequently convened. The Working Group has also been assisted by three members of Counsel during the process.

The Working Group agreed that the New GFL Rules should broadly align with the FCA Rules where appropriate, but be altered to take into account:

  • the different jurisdiction of the two courts;
  • the promotion of the overarching purpose in the FCFCOA Act; and
  • the Court as a high-volume jurisdiction with large numbers of unrepresented parties.

The advantages of a set of rules that align, where appropriate, with the FCA Rules are obvious:

  • greater consistency for practitioners and registrars across the two courts; and
  • greater jurisprudential certainty when procedural matters are resolved in court.

To achieve that consistency and jurisprudential certainty, the Working Group compared each part of the draft New GFL Rules with their equivalent in the FCA Rules. The Working Group also discussed the suitability of each FCA Rule to proceedings in the Court to determine whether the FCA version of a given rule should be adopted or whether a different rule or a different form of the rule would be more appropriate.

The result of this exercise is that the draft New GFL Rules are comprised of:

  • some rules which are identical to those found in the FCA Rules;
  • retention of some rules from the Current GFL Rules;
  • some Current GFL Rules which have been redrafted for improved readability or to address a specific need identified by the Working Group;
  • some rules based on those found in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) (Family Law) Rules 2021 which ensure consistency across the Court; and
  • some completely new rules which respond to certain proceedings in the Court that neither the Current GFL Rules nor the FCA Rules sufficiently addressed.

The New GFL Rules are intended to largely provide a single legislative source without requiring parties and practitioners to cross-reference with the FCA Rules. Having said that, the New GFL Rules do still allow for referral to the FCA Rules on the rare occasion that a matter arising in a proceeding in the Court is not addressed in the New GFL Rules.

As the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) (Bankruptcy) Rules 2021 have already been harmonised with the Federal Court (Bankruptcy) Rules 2016, they have not formed part of this review.

The draft New GFL Rules are supplemented by redrafted practice directions that will give overarching guidance as to the general case management applicable to each type of proceeding (GFL Practice Directions).

The next stage of the rules review process is a consideration of any updates to court forms and other associated documents which the Working Group is currently undertaking.


The draft New GFL Rules and practice directions have been through initial rounds of internal judicial and registrar consultation and are now presented to you as part of the consultation process with the profession and other stakeholders.

In the PDF below are:

1. Draft New GFL Rules;

2. Draft GFL Practice Directions;

3. Three mapping tables which show how the Draft New GFL Rules fit with the FCA Rules and the Current GFL Rules:

    a. [Appendix 1:] a derivation table, showing the source of each rule in the New GFL Rules;

    b. [Appendix 2:] a destination table, showing what has happened to each rule in the Current GFL Rules; and

    c. [Appendix 3:] a table showing how the FCA Rules map to the New GFL Rules.

Any feedback on the draft general federal law rules should be submitted by email to no later than Friday, 5 April 2024. See the attached PDF for more information, including the draft new GFL Rules.

View the PDF here