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Commonwealth Courts Portal: What is it?

Podcast Episode by Pearsons Lawyers
11 May 2021

(Transcription)

Joe Schepis:
Welcome to Pearsons podcast. I’m Joe Schepis.

Breana Cilia:
And I’m Breana Cilia.

Joe Schepis:
Today, we’re going to talk about the court portal and what this means to the world at large. So Breana’s probably too young to remember, but many, many moons ago, we chopped down many trees and forest to create paper files. And we’d have a clerk go to the court to file documents, get them stamped by the court and return them to us. That’s not how things happen these days.

Breana Cilia:
No. I mean, there has been a few times, a couple of years ago I think now, where we’d give it to the clerk and she would run to court, try and make it by 4:00 PM to file the documents in person. So, I guess maybe we’re getting a bit fatter from not having to run around to the court as much.

Joe Schepis:
More sedentary.

Breana Cilia:
Exactly. Exactly.

Joe Schepis:
We can do it all from our computers.

Breana Cilia:
Everything’s online at our fingertips.

Joe Schepis:
So, the way the court portal works is that you have a login with the court Commonwealth Portal. And from there, you can file your documents online. So, it might be a divorce application. It might be an application to commence court proceedings preparing to your property.

Joe Schepis:
Or it might be a response to those sorts of documents and they can be filed online. And the court will then assess them and you can then download. And if you want to, you can print as your copy of the documents for your file back in the office.

Breana Cilia:
Exactly. And when you first come to your solicitor and you make the decision that you want to initiate proceedings in the court, what the first point of action is, they’ll start the application. And that puts them on record as the solicitors acting for the matter, so the court has everything on record.

Joe Schepis:
And that way you can keep track of what’s happening on the court portal in a matter. So, if someone files a document, you become aware of it. If court makes orders, you become aware of it through the court portal. You can download them, you can print them off, you can email them to a client. And you can keep a tab on everything that’s happening on the file.

Joe Schepis:
In relation to court fees, they’re paid obviously, by transfer of funds from a credit card. Pearsons have got their own credit card. We pay the fees from there, but sometimes fees are either reduced or waived. If a client’s got, for example, a pensioner concession card or healthcare card or something similar.

Breana Cilia:
Exactly. So you can always let your solicitor know if you’ve got a healthcare card, pension card. Some circumstances, the filing fee will be reduced. And other circumstances, the court, if you’re the applicant in the matter, will charge a fee for that hearing date. And in some circumstances, that fee may be exempt. So it’s always important to be aware of that, just in case you’re in possession of one of those cards.

Joe Schepis:
I mean, I often ask my clients if they’ve got a healthcare card or pensioner concession card. Client’s circumstances change over time. And a client who may not have one, may get one. Or a client that has got one, might expire and they’re no longer eligible. Explain, Breana, how the Commonwealth Portal works in relation to, for example, subpoenas.

Breana Cilia:
Okay. So originally… Well, normally, a subpoena would have to be filed in person. So, once you draft the document, in order for it to get a sealed stamp, which means it’s got the court stamp, it’s been filed with the court, that’s how you know that the court has received it. It also shows the time of filing, the date of filing. So that’s always useful throughout the court proceedings.

Breana Cilia:
But with subpoenas pre-COVID, that would be done in person at the registry. However, because of COVID, we’ve obviously, been moving to more of a electronic way of living. That can be just emailed into the court and then the court will provide you with the seal. And then that’s accessible through the court portal.

Breana Cilia:
So, it’s good because it keeps a record of all the dates of your hearing. So everything’s recorded very thoroughly. All the documents filed by the other party. You can also set notifications through the portal to alert you if anything’s being filed by the other side. So, it’s a good way of keeping track of the matter electronically without losing and having millions of paper.

Joe Schepis:
Now, Breana, for example, once you’ve served the subpoena and someone’s produced documents to the court, are you able to view those through the court portal system, or do you have to physically go there to have a look?

Breana Cilia:
Well, it varies. Because of COVID, depending on what the documents are, the length of the documents, you can now email the court during COVID and they will send them via way of email. But in normal circumstances, you’d have to attend court. Because the court at the moment has got a limited amount of people coming and going, you book an appointment with the registry. That can be done by way of email. And they’ll give you an appointment time to inspect documents.

Breana Cilia:
So, that’s a good way of also knowing, once the documents have been produced by the other side. And generally, when you file a subpoena, there’s a date in which the documents have to be returned by. It’s a court order. And so, you can check the portal to see if the other side or the person you’re subpoenaing has complied with that production date. And then, raise that with them if they’re in noncompliance and in breach of that subpoena.

Joe Schepis:
Okay. So, basically the Commonwealth Portal system has made it very, more streamlined, more accessible. You can keep tabs of dates and events that occurs through the court system. And have saved us a lot of time and also, the client’s money and also the forest.

Breana Cilia:
Exactly. Right.

Joe Schepis:
So, it’s been a good introduction. And COVID has just sprang that further ahead because of the need for us to work remotely and not attend the court physically. So, we hope that you found that interesting. If you have any questions or want to make an appointment for your free consultation to Pearsons, then call 1300-699-688. So that’s a thank you for listening from Joe Schepis from Pearsons.

Breana Cilia:
And Breana Cilia.

Pearsons Family Lawyers

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