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The PPP500 List: Priority Property Pools of Under $500,000

The PPP500 List – Priority Property Pools under $500,000 – is a Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA) list dedicated to expeditiously hearing financial matters where the asset pool is valued at less than $500,000. The program is currently being piloted in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Parramatta Registries. It is designed to improve the court’s responsiveness to family violence for vulnerable parties by providing a simplified way to resolve disputes whilst minimising risk and legal costs and best preserving the parties’ assets. The purpose of the pilot is to achieve a just, efficient and timely resolution of PPP500 cases, at a cost to the parties that is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances of the case. This is consistent with the overarching purpose of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021, which is set out at Rule 1.04 to “facilitate the just resolution of disputes according to law and as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible.”

What Does The PPP500 List Provide?

The PPP500 List provides for an expedited hearing. Judges who sit in this particular list are allocated specified hearing time which provide prompter outcomes than hearings occurring via the usual channels.  Should the specified hearing time not be used by a suitable matter, it will of course be allocated by the judicial officer to the hearing of other judicial matters.

Who Is Eligible For The PPP500 List?

To be eligible for the pilot PPP500 List, the following must apply:

  1. The net property of the parties including superannuation entitlements is, or is likely to be, $500,000 or less.
  2. There are no entities (such as a family trust, company, or self-managed superannuation fund) owned or in the effective control of either party that might require valuationor expert investigation; and
  3. Neither party seeks orders for parenting matters, orders in relation to Child Supportor enforcement of an order or obligation about parenting or financial matters.

Documents Required For PPP500 List Matters

The documents required for matters in the PPP500 List are different to the documents required for matters going through the usual process when property adjustment orders are sought following the breakdown of a relationship.

To commence proceedings for a matter in the PPP500 List, a party is to file an Initiating Application, a PPP500 Financial Summary form and Genuine Steps Certificate, confirming the applicant’s compliance with the pre-action procedures listed in Schedule 1 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Rules. Therefore, the requirement to file an Affidavit and Financial Statement is waived, until an order is made otherwise.

The Financial Summary form is a truncated form that addresses matters that would ordinarily be addressed by a party in an Affidavit when seeking property adjustment, and also financial circumstance matters as ordinarily provided for in the Financial Statement.

The PPP500 Financial Summary form can be found on the court website.

Once a matter is commenced in the PPP500 List it is case managed in the first stage (known as limb one) by a Registrar leading triage and resolution in a relatively short time frame. The second limb is conducted by a judge who will apply procedurally simpler processes to promptly arrive at the determination phase of the file.

Full And Frank Disclosure

The obligations of full and frank financial disclosure continue to apply in this special list. In fact, prompt and accurate disclosure is very important given the fast-paced nature of the program. Further, the PPP500 Financial Summary form requires particular details to be provided by parties in the initial filing document, which may not be otherwise specifically addressed in a Financial Statement or Affidavit. A Respondent is required to file their Response with their orders sought and the PPP500 Financial Summary form within 28 days of service. As part of the program where it is intended to promptly progress a file through the system as fast as reasonably possible, the court may make orders in chambers prior to a first court date requiring the exchange of certain documents between parties.

Whilst this program is designed to truncate processes where possible and keep legal costs in proportion to the property pool value and issues in dispute, you should always obtain independent legal advice. This will likely assist you to understand where your entitlements to the property pool are likely to fall and assist in navigating court processes and relevant principles.

The short-form expedited hearing is flexible so it can meet the needs of a situation and it is anticipated to be less costly and time-consuming than a traditional family law trial and to be more inclusive and less formal.

The judge determines what information is put before the court and how the hearing is run. The judge retains control of the hearing and will apply their own discretion. The judge will be active in directing and controlling the conduct of proceedings, such as which evidence is to be relied upon and the length of cross-examination. The hearing is to be conducted without undue delay and with as little formality and legal technicality as possible.

In a traditional trial on property matters the rules of evidence apply. The court in a short form expedited hearing will make important decisions about whether the rules of evidence apply. As is usual in a traditional hearing, the court will make orders and directions about the conduct of the hearing such as directing oral submissions, or written submissions, limiting the time for giving of evidence and cross-examination and limiting the number of witnesses.

Ultimately, this is a new program designed to promptly deal with small claim property pools following the breakdown of a relationship. The court’s intention is to resolve the matter in a just, efficient and cost that is proportionate to the matter.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) is currently undertaking an evaluation of the success of the PPP500 List for all persons involved, including parties, lawyers and other professionals, where the matter has now been finalised via the program. This information will likely determine the future of the Pilot and whether the program is rolled out in other Registries and funded in the future. The current pilot is funded through the Federal Government’s Women’s Economic Security Package.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Natasha Heathcote - Practice Director – Sydney

This article was written by Natasha Heathcote - Practice Director – Sydney

Natasha Heathcote completed her Bachelor of Business (majoring in finance), and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Technology Sydney. She has long held a strong passion for family law and believes that the law can be used to achieve positive resolutions for her clients. Showing compassion for her clients, she builds strong rapport and trust to help understand their...

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