A Conciliation Conference is a court managed form of alternative dispute resolution which occurs for financial matters filed in the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court. A Conciliation Conference is an excellent opportunity to resolve your dispute and avoid ongoing litigation and costs.
A Registrar of the Court will work with the parties and their legal representatives during this process to attempt to resolve the property dispute.
A Conciliation Conference is usually scheduled for two (2) hours but can sometimes extend for half a day or more if the parties are getting close to settlement.
Prior to the Conciliation Conference being allocated, the Registrar will want to know if there are any outstanding disclosure issues or valuation issues which required resolution. This is important as the balance sheet needs to be agreed as far as possible prior to the conference taking place. Each party has a duty of disclosure and a failure to disclose can result in adverse costs orders or even result in a non-disclosing party receiving less of the asset pool at trial. The disclosure obligations are outlined here.
The legal representatives for each party will work prior to the date to prepare a balance sheet outlining the value of the assets (including superannuation) and liabilities of the parties. If the value of any significant items are in dispute then a jointly instructed expert may need to be appointed by the parties to value that asset such as a property or an interest in a company or trust. These valuations will need to be completed prior to a Conciliation Conference occurring.
Each party is required to file a Conciliation Conference document prior to the event which outlines their position on what they say they are entitled to from the joint matrimonial asset pool and why. There will be discussion about the contributions of each party and future needs during the Conference.
Each party will be provided with information about their legal costs to date and the likely costs that they will incur if the matter does not settle and proceeds to a final hearing.
Your lawyer will work with you in the days leading up to it to prepare the required documents and consider options for settlement.
If an agreement is reached at the Conciliation Conference, then the Registrar can make final Orders on the day by consent and the matter will be concluded. If no agreement is reached, then a Procedural Hearing will be held following and Orders made for the preparation of the matter to proceed to a final hearing.
If there is a significant asset pool, the parties may be required to engage in a private mediation as an alternative to a Conciliation Conference.
For more information about Conciliation Conferences, please see the Court brochure here.