From July 2021, a new approach to resolving Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) cases is being made available in the Perth Magistrates Court.
How does it work?
This new approach, called FVRO Conferencing, enables applicants and respondents to attend a shuttle conference at the Court to attempt to reach an agreement about their case. The shuttle conference is heard by a Magistrates Court Registrar (Registrar) who will facilitate a discussion with both parties to discuss the FVRO.
At the shuttle conference, each party will be located in separate rooms within the Court. The Registrar will “shuttle” between the two parties in an aim to help the applicant and respondent reach an agreement. The parties will be kept completely separate for the purposes of the shuttle conference.
The Registrar remains impartial for the duration of the conference, while trying to help the parties reach an agreement and resolve the proceedings. During the conference the Registrar will ascertain the following:
- The facts and/or issues agreed upon by both parties;
- If there are any urgent matters that require the appropriate attention; and
- The questions that are to be heard by a Magistrate at a final order hearing.
Should a matter not be resolved during the Conference, the Registrar may make orders for the matter to be made ready for a Final Order hearing. This allows for proceedings to develop in an efficient manner.
What are the benefits of Conferencing?
Conferencing is a method of alternative dispute resolution, allowing parties to safely resolve their matter in a less formal environment as opposed to going before the Court and avoiding stress and cost.
Conferencing gives the parties to ask procedural questions of the Registrar and understand each other’s issues. The Registrar also has the opportunity to make orders that are more flexible than other Court orders by ascertaining the individual needs of each party.
The Registrar will also explain the purpose, effect and obligations under each order for both party.
Is Conferencing available to everyone?
Conferencing is available for FVRO applications lodged at Perth Magistrates Court. This will be extended to Joondalup and Fremantle Courts.
Both the Applicant and the Respondent can opt out of the Conference when lodging an application/objection to an FVRO, meaning they will not be able to engage and their matter will not be listed for a Conference.
Can I have a lawyer with me at the Conference?
Both the Applicant and the Respondent can be represented by a lawyer at the Conference. Each party may also have support people available, such as a friend or family member. Please note that the support person cannot be a person who will be called to give evidence at the Final Order hearing.