Are you a compliant lawyer, where you plan your work according to the courts directions and file/serve your evidence and material as directed? Or are you a lawyer who is constantly late when filing/serving your material and find it difficult to keep in step with the courts timetables? What can be the outcome for a family lawyer who habitually default with court directed timetables? What options are available for a compliant lawyer in such circumstances? Here’s a few simple tips to assist keep matters on track and reduce delays.
Not everyone is like me and aren’t we thankful for variety :-) However, I am person who feels stress tenfold if I feel like Im not going to make a deadline (whatever that deadline is) so I schedule and organise myself and my time so that I meet deadlines, to ensure I don’t put myself under increased pressure and stress. The job is stressful enough without that! :-)
Lets be honest, we all know that late filing and service of affidavits is a common problem in practice, for all kinds of reasons, which creates difficulties, delay and additional costs, for all concerned. If you are a lawyer that complies with court directions on most occasions (only not doing so out of an emergency situation), what course is available to you when you find your opponent is the person who regularly runs their case according to their own timetable, with little regard for the court timetables, and has a reputation for such? Can the non compliant lawyers (client) evidence be excluded?
What Can You Do If Lawyer Constantly Defaults?
Firstly, lets review Rule 11.02 (1) of the Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth) (“FLR”), which sets out that if evidence is not filed and served according to the courts timetable, a lawyer who complies can submit to the Court that by operation of Rule 11.02(1) late evidence cannot then be relied upon by the lawyer in default. Rule 11.02 (2) FLR then specifies what a court may do as a consequence of of the effect of Rule 11.02 (1) FLR, which includes:
- costs order against defaulting lawyer
- dismiss all or part of the defaulting case
- prohibit the party from taking a further step in the case until the occurrence of a specified event
It is noted that the list of consequences found in r 11.02(2) does not limit the powers of the court. If the lawyer who complies does make such submissions according to the above rules, then the defaulting party can apply from relief from that set out in Rule 11.02 by virtue of Rule 11.03, and this is carried out by filing an Application in a Case or with the court’s permission, orally making submissions at a later court event.
Success is not guaranteed by following the above course, however, it is an available provision that can be utilised in an effort to minimise some delays caused by non compliance , which impact on lawyers and clients.
Are You The Defaulting Lawyer, Whats Your Best Option?
We all know that unforeseen events occur, which are totally understandable. However, being a habitual default lawyer is not encouraged nor considered professional, it does reflect upon a lawyers reputation. Its in the lawyers best interests to comply with directions on every occasion, unless some unexpected event arises, something “out of ordinary”, that caused the default.
Why not call your opponent on the phone, as soon as you know you aren’t able to comply, and follow up with a confirmation email, seeking their leniency and explain the reason for the delay, backing that up with an explanation at the next court event. Much can be accomplished by honest and frank communication to build trusting and friendly professional relationships, so when such defaults occur, communication can assist to overcome any difficulties.
We all have deadlines to meet so how can we lessen our stress and improve our productivity to ensure we comply with our respective deadlines:
- Delegate work to others according to their skills and abilities, give people opportunities to learn and improve and succeed
- Prioritise work: at the start of every day/week/month make a list of tasks that need immediate attention
- Avoid procrastination: The task won’t go away and it will only waste time and energy.
- Set a realistic deadline: Stick to it once made, unless an unplanned emergency interferes.
- Start the day early: most successful men/women start off their day early when they are more calm and have higher energy levels (great advice if you are an early morning person – if not, may need to shift a gear in the morning?) :-)
- Take a 10 minute break regularly, get up from the desk, take a short walk: it will clear the head and reduce stress
- Learn to Say No: If you area already overloaded with work, politely say no, it won’t mean that offers of work will dry up by saying “NO”. Rather it means that you want to give your existing work and clients the time and attention they require for the best possible outcomes. This will improve your reputation markedly
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