Complex financial family law cases made simple: New pilot list launched

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By Olivia English, Law Graduate

Following the recent merger which formed the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the Court), more announcements have been made to streamline case management. On 1 October 2021, the Major Complex Financial Proceedings List (MCFP List) Pilot commenced in the Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne Registries.

Navigating this new pilot program, combined with the complex nature of the financial matters which the MCFP list services, is a task which clients should only place in the hands of the most experienced and trusted family lawyers. Alexandra Moles and Rachael Murray together bring over 37 years of experience to each and every client, and have both been frequently recognised for their proficiency with high net-worth clients and complex financial matters, including those with intricate corporate and trust entity structures and family businesses.

Further, both Alexandra Moles and Rachael Murray have been recognised as leading family lawyers in Queensland by the Doyles Guide. Alexandra and Rachael’s team will approach MCFP List cases with a strong dispute resolution focus and the ability to skilfully represent clients across all types of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, conciliation and arbitration. The multi-disciplinary nature of Mills Oakley’s practice also allows complex family law matters which are affected by taxation, succession or corporate issues to receive efficient and fulsome advice with seamless referrals and a collaborative approach.

Stakeholders in family law have repeatedly pointed out that delays and lack of resources result in families being forced to endure emotional, costly and treacherous litigation for longer than necessary. In order to resolve these issues, it was suggested to the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System that the remedy is effective case management. President of the Law Council of Australia, Ms Pauline Wright, argued that the streaming of court lists, early triage of cases and other administrative changes will all provide some relief to the crippling backlog experience by the Court, but only where it is properly resourced.

Following this report, the Court has announced numerous specialised “lists”, such as the MCFP List, which provide a clear, specific pathway for matters in order to achieve a efficient and timely resolution of the matter, at a proportionate cost to the party and with efficient use of resources. MCFP List cases must satisfy the following particular requirements:

  1. A contested net asset pool of $20 million or more; and
  2. A complex disputed issue such as:
    1. serious allegations of non-disclosure;
    2. serious disputes in relation to valuations or other expert reports;
    3. substantial assets held through a trust/corporate entity or offshore;
    4. substantial third-party claims to the asset pool;
    5. serious allegations of fraud; or
    6. other complex questions of law or novel points of law; and
  3. Not involve a parenting dispute, or if it does, that parenting dispute can be considered and determined separately.

MCFP cases will be more rigorously timetabled and intensively case managed (including regarding the number and lengths of documents and the time allocated for hearings) compared to normal financial family law cases. There is also an expectation that MCFP cases will engage in dispute resolution. The results of this pilot and a more broader roll-out will be eagerly awaited by all practitioners, particularly those in regional areas.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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