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Report on Government Services 2019

Part C, Chapter 7

Courts

The focus of this chapter is the court administration functions of Australian and State and Territory courts.

Data are reported for the Federal Court, the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court, the criminal and civil jurisdictions of the supreme courts (including probate registries), district/county courts, magistrates' courts (including children's courts), coroners' courts and the Family Court of WA.

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  • Key Facts
  • Indicator Framework
  • Indicator Results

The focus of this chapter is the court administration functions of Australian and State and Territory courts. Data are reported for the Federal Court, the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court, the criminal and civil jurisdictions of the supreme courts (including probate registries), district/county courts, magistrates' courts (including children's courts), coroners' courts and the Family Court of WA.

  • In 2017-18,  in the criminal jurisdiction of the supreme, district/county, magistrates’ and children’s courts, approximately 791 216 cases were lodged, and 800 454 cases were finalised.
  • In the civil jurisdiction of these same courts approximately 419 765 cases were lodged and 427 208 cases finalised.
  • In the Australian courts, approximately 122 463 cases were lodged, and 121 495 cases finalised.
  • Total court administration recurrent expenditure less income (excluding fines) by the court authorities covered in this chapter was approximately $1.5 billion in 2017-18, comprising $1.29 billion for the State and Territory courts and $222.4 million for the Australian courts.

Courts aim to safeguard and maintain the rule of law and ensure equal justice for all. Court services support the courts and aim to encourage public confidence and trust in the courts by enabling them to:

  • be open and accessible
  • be affordable
  • process matters in a high quality, expeditious and timely manner.

Governments aim for court services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.

The performance indicator framework provides information on equity, efficiency and effectiveness, and distinguishes the outputs and outcomes of courts. The performance indicator framework shows which data are complete and comparable in the 2019 Report.

Indicator framework

An overview of the Courts performance indicator results are presented. Information to assist the interpretation of these data can be found in the indicator interpretation boxes in the Courts chapter and attachment tables.

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Effectiveness — Access — Timeliness and delay indicators

Judicial officers

Number of FTE judicial officers, per 100 000 people, 2017-18

Most recent data for this measure are comparable and complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme/Federal 0.7 0.9 0.5 0.9 0.7 1.6 1.6 3.6 0.2 1.0
District/County 0.9 1.1 0.7 1.1 1.2 .. .. .. .. 0.9
Magistrates’ 1.5 1.8 1.8 1.8 2.0 2.0 1.9 6.3 .. 1.8
Children’s 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.6 .. 0.3
Family .. .. .. 0.6 .. .. .. .. 0.1 0.2
Federal Circuit .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 0.3 0.3
Coroners’ 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.5 0.6 .. 0.1
Total3.64.13.34.74.34.43.711.10.64.5
Source: Attachment table 7A.24

Backlog

Percentage of criminal lodgments pending completion at 30 June 2018 (per cent)

Most recent data for this measure are comparable and complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme (appeal) >12 months 4.8 8.6 13.4 11.0 11.7 5.6 22.2 19.2 .. ..
Supreme (appeal) >24 months 2.8 7.4 .. ..
Supreme (non-appeal) >12 months 32.1 25.0 18.9 10.0 22.4 35.3 13.6 7.7 .. ..
Supreme (non-appeal) >24 months 9.5 8.1 3.9 1.2 10.1 3.5 0.7 .. ..
District (appeal) >12 months 1.2 6.6 19.8 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
District (appeal) >24 months 0.1 1.1 7.0 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
District (non-appeal) >12 months 21.7 19.5 15.4 10.9 28.5 .. .. .. .. ..
District (non-appeal) >24 months 4.7 4.1 4.8 1.2 8.7 .. .. .. .. ..
Magistrates' >6 months 13.0 27.9 35.5 33.5 26.8 36.2 26.5 23.0 .. ..
Magistrates' >12 months 1.9 10.3 16.1 13.8 8.7 15.0 9.9 7.4 .. ..
Children's >6 months 18.2 16.6 18.6 18.1 12.6 20.3 8.9 22.7 .. ..
Children's >12 months 2.0 4.2 6.5 5.0 2.5 7.0 1.1 8.2 .. ..
Source: Attachment table 7A.17

Percentage of civil lodgments pending completion at 30 June 2018 (per cent)

Most recent data for this measure are comparable and complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme/Federal (appeal) >12 months 13.0 10.8 16.1 29.0 23.7 38.3 20.8 27.6 10.6 ..
Supreme/Federal (appeal) >24 months 1.1 5.6 1.1 3.7 5.1 11.7 10.4 6.9 2.5 ..
Supreme (excl. probate)/Federal (non-appeal) >12 months 32.3 31.9 27.5 33.2 26.3 39.3 19.6 29.2 34.5 ..
Supreme (excl. probate)/Federal (non-appeal) >24 months 13.6 14.5 7.2 11.0 12.2 23.3 6.1 11.5 18.7 ..
District (appeal) >12 months 15.2 6.7 21.4 11.7 13.9 .. .. .. .. ..
District (appeal) >24 months 11.4 1.9 11.1 .. .. .. .. ..
District (non-appeal) >12 months 16.8 36.5 19.8 42.2 49.4 .. .. .. .. ..
District (non-appeal) >24 months 3.0 16.2 4.2 14.9 21.7 .. .. .. .. ..
Magistrates' >6 months 19.5 35.0 40.7 41.1 45.0 40.9 25.1 37.4 .. ..
Magistrates' >12 months 1.2 25.8 10.4 9.4 11.8 10.7 9.9 13.5 .. ..
Children's >6 months 45.0 24.4 45.6 43.3 6.6 36.4 34.4 18.8 .. ..
Children's >12 months 10.2 8.3 17.0 17.9 1.6 16.7 6.6 1.8 .. ..
Family (appeal) >12 months .. .. .. 20.0 .. .. .. .. 12.3 ..
Family (appeal) >24 months .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 3.2 ..
Family (non-appeal) >12 months .. .. .. 35.1 .. .. .. .. 33.5 ..
Family (non-appeal) >24 months .. .. .. 13.4 .. .. .. .. 15.9 ..
Federal Circuit >6 months .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 40.1 ..
Federal Circuit >12 months .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 22.2 ..
Coroners >12 months 25.2 28.2 39.0 21.0 37.2 40.9 48.0 31.0 .. ..
Coroners >24 months 11.5 13.3 17.7 6.6 17.8 14.6 26.6 18.4 .. ..

Source: Attachment table 7A.18

On-time case processing — Experimental data

Percentage of criminal cases finalised during the year which were finalised in less than or equal to 6, 12 or 24 months, 2017-18

Most recent data for this measure are comparable and complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme (appeal) <=12 months 98.6 83.8 74.2 79.8 87.6 66.7 88.0 80.0 .. ..
Supreme (appeal) <=24 months 100.0 99.3 97.5 97.3 95.9 90.9 100.0 96.7 .. ..
Supreme (non-appeal) <=12 months 41.8 69.5 90.6 85.8 89.8 59.4 78.8 92.7 .. ..
Supreme (non-appeal) <=24 months 88.8 92.7 98.4 99.1 96.6 87.4 98.3 98.6 .. ..
District (appeal) <=12 months 87.3 97.4 86.8 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
District (appeal) <=24 months 97.7 99.8 95.1 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
District (non-appeal) <=12 months 22.1 82.1 93.3 84.7 72.7 .. .. .. .. ..
District (non-appeal) <=24 months 55.4 97.6 98.1 98.8 91.5 .. .. .. .. ..
Magistrates' <=6 months 88.1 74.7 81.5 85.8 70.0 54.6 81.8 83.8 .. ..
Magistrates' <=12 months 98.2 90.7 92.0 94.3 88.4 79.9 93.6 94.6 .. ..
Children's <=6 months 81.3 88.1 85.6 79.5 89.4 68.1 83.1 68.3 .. ..
Children's <=12 months 97.5 96.8 95.4 94.6 96.4 90.3 94.2 91.5 .. ..

Source: Attachment table 7A.19

Percentage of civil cases finalised during the year which were finalised in less than or equal to 6, 12 or 24 months, 2017-18

Most recent data for this measure are comparable and complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme/Federal (appeal) <=12 months 86.3 86.6 83.0 70.6 66.7 70.8 74.1 86.9 79.1 ..
Supreme/Federal (appeal) <=24 months 98.2 98.5 99.4 94.4 96.0 87.5 94.8 95.3 97.9 ..
Supreme (excl. probate)/Federal (non-appeal) <=12 months 77.5 73.1 45.8 53.3 72.1 43.2 59.5 68.9 87.0 ..
Supreme (excl. probate)/Federal (non-appeal) <=24 months 92.0 89.3 93.0 89.2 90.8 83.4 92.3 88.7 93.9 ..
District (appeal) <=12 months 91.9 93.3 72.5 84.8 73.5 .. .. .. .. ..
District (appeal) <=24 months 98.4 100.0 93.8 99.0 94.1 .. .. .. .. ..
District (non-appeal) <=12 months 68.8 56.5 40.6 69.2 52.8 .. .. .. .. ..
District (non-appeal) <=24 months 95.0 88.1 94.1 91.5 78.3 .. .. .. .. ..
Magistrates' <=6 months 60.8 74.9 64.9 78.9 59.8 52.9 85.8 94.3 .. ..
Magistrates' <=12 months 96.5 78.3 72.3 83.7 69.6 86.9 95.4 98.0 .. ..
Children's <=6 months 53.0 81.4 75.7 69.1 97.3 87.2 82.8 83.0 .. ..
Children's <=12 months 90.2 95.7 90.5 82.1 99.8 95.6 94.0 97.0 .. ..
Family (appeal) <=12 months .. .. .. 83.3 .. .. .. .. 83.5 ..
Family (appeal) <=24 months .. .. .. 100.0 .. .. .. .. 95.7 ..
Family (non-appeal) <=12 months .. .. .. 77.2 .. .. .. .. 92.7 ..
Family (non-appeal) <=24 months .. .. .. 92.6 .. .. .. .. 96.8 ..
Federal Circuit <=6 months .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 75.6 ..
Federal Circuit <=12 months .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 88.3 ..
Coroners <=12 months 89.4 85.0 85.7 47.5 57.6 44.8 91.0 74.3 .. ..
Coroners <=24 months 97.5 96.1 95.0 95.6 95.7 77.2 94.6 95.0 .. ..

Source: Attachment table 7A.20

Attendance

Average number of attendances per finalisation, criminal courts, 2017‑18

Most recent data for this measure are not comparable or complete
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme na na 3.0 3.3 3.7 5.1 7.4 6.4 .. ..
District/County 3.2 4.9 3.7 4.1 6.5 .. .. .. .. ..
Magistrates' 2.6 3.2 3.7 2.9 4.3 4.4 3.6 4.1 .. ..
Children's 4.0 3.1 4.2 5.3 3.3 5.5 5.7 7.7 .. ..

Average number of attendances per finalisation, civil courts, 2017‑18

Most recent data for this measure are not comparable or complete
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme (excl. probate)/Federal na na 1.2 1.5 3.0 1.9 2.8 5.8 3.0 ..
District/County 3.4 0.7 0.3 0.9 2.7 .. .. .. .. ..
Magistrates' 1.0 1.3 1.3 0.8 1.2 1.3 1.6 1.5 .. ..
Children's 4.9 4.4 3.8 4.5 2.9 4.6 6.9 4.1 .. ..
Family .. .. .. 2.3 .. .. .. .. 2.0 ..
Federal Circuit .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1.9 ..
Coroners 5.3 1.6 3.5 2.3 5.0 3.1 8.3 1.0 .. ..
Source: Attachment table 7A.21

Clearance

Finalisations divided by lodgments (multiplied by 100 to provide percentage), all matters, 2017‑18

Most recent data for this measure are comparable and complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme/Federal 95.5 104.1 104.7 96.9 109.0 100.2 95.4 92.6 94.6 ..
District/County 104.9 98.9 97.6 97.6 113.9 .. .. .. .. ..
Magistrates' 103.4 99.0 102.3 100.4 100.9 100.5 122.0 98.6 .. ..
Children’s 101.6 97.8 95.5 106.6 96.7 102.0 98.0 102.4 .. ..
Family .. .. .. 102.0 .. .. .. .. 99.4 ..
Federal Circuit .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 99.5 ..
Coroners 98.2 97.9 93.1 101.4 108.2 101.2 97.1 78.2 ..  
Source: Attachment tables 7A.22-23

Effectiveness — Access — Affordability

Fees paid by applicants

Average civil court fees paid per lodgment, 2017-18 (dollars)

Most recent data for this measure are comparable and complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme (excl. probate)/Federal 4 023 2 169 2 496 2 602 3 251 1 097 3 009 2 527 2 808 2 936
District/County 2 093 1 684 976 1 163 1 077 .. .. .. .. 1 495
Magistrates'
(only)
218 232 115 155 142 102 310 10 .. 187
Family .. .. .. 387 .. .. .. .. 242 305
Federal Circuit .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 612 612
Probate ‑
Supreme
1 503 392 683 350 1 662 856 1 462 1 369 .. 960
Source: Attachment table 7A.15

Efficiency

Judicial officers per finalisation

Full time equivalent judicial officers divided by total finalisations (multiplied by 1000), 2017-18

Most recent data for this measure are comparable and complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme/Federal 7.6 9.2 4.3 6.9 8.6 6.4 6.7 11.3 8.2 7.4
District/County 3.9 5.8 2.7 3.7 5.4 .. .. .. .. 4.1
Magistrates' 0.4 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.5 0.4 0.7 0.9 .. 0.4
Children's 1.4 0.6 0.4 0.5 0.9 0.8 2.1 0.9 .. 0.8
Family .. .. .. 1.0 .. .. .. .. 1.5 1.3
Federal Circuit .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 0.7 0.7
Coroners 0.9 1.5 1.5 1.7 1.0 4.6 0.6 6.2 .. 1.4
Total0.80.90.60.70.90.81.11.41.20.8
Source: Attachment table 7A.25

Full time equivalent staff (FTE) per finalisation

Full time equivalent staff divided by total finalisations (multiplied by 1000), 2017-18

Most recent data for this measure are comparable and complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Criminal courts 6.0 4.9 3.3 3.8 8.6 4.1 8.0 6.7 .. 4.9
Civil courts 5.9 6.6 4.0 5.6 5.5 6.0 14.0 7.8 57.2 6.5
Family courts .. .. .. 9.2 .. .. .. .. 7.7 8.4
Federal Circuit .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 6.4 6.4
Coroners 5.9 14.5 11.5 13.6 9.1 11.8 16.9 23.7 .. 11.0
Total5.95.73.65.07.54.710.07.29.05.7
Source: Attachment table 7A.26

Cost per finalisation

Total recurrent expenditure (minus income) divided by total finalisations, criminal, 2017-18 (dollars)

Most recent data for this measure are not comparable but are complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme 46 503 50 142 6 736 25 528 32 003 17 546 23 952 23 675 .. 19 096
District/County 7 707 17 052 6 672 17 768 11 159 .. .. .. .. 10 221
Magistrates' 578 784 503 635 963 485 999 1 194 .. 647
Children's 888 395 774 543 684 646 2 293 1 194 .. 682
Source: Attachment table 7A.27

Total recurrent expenditure (minus income) divided by total finalisations, civil, 2017-18 (dollars)

Most recent data for this measure are not comparable but are complete, subject to caveats
 NSWVicQldWASATasACTNT Aus Gov Aust
Supreme (excl. probate)/Federal 5 120 8 489 5 486 10 640 4 948 5 722 7 337 19 228 14 703 8 588
District/County 2 020 4 124 1 543 1 132 3 440 .. .. .. .. 2 388
Magistrates' 196 441 347 481 176 314 1 392 1 255 .. 348
Children's 816 2 800 672 1 458 1 606 600 7 307 1 275 .. 1 497
Family .. .. .. 1 616 .. .. .. .. 2 310 2 007
Federal Circuit .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 969 969
Coroners 1 027 2 571 2 009 2 955 1 521 2 326 3 666 4 029 .. 1 984
Source: Attachment table 7A.28

Notes

These data and caveats for these data are available in Chapter 7 and Attachment 7A.

na Not available. .. Not applicable. – Nil or rounded to zero.