Family Court of Western Australia

Conciliation Conference

The conciliation conference is usually the second court event in property and financial cases, following the procedural hearing. A conciliation conference is conducted by a Registrar who looks at the case from both sides and can help you explore options to try to resolve your dispute.

You are expected to make a genuine effort to settle your dispute at the conciliation conference. With that in mind, you should go to the conference in a spirit of compromise and adopt a practical approach.

A Registrar cannot give legal advice, but can talk with you about legal principles that are applied in deciding cases.

There is a fee for the Court providing the conciliation conference service. See the fees page for details.

What happens at a conciliation conference?

The conciliation conference lasts for about one hour, and has three stages.

It is held in a meeting room. You do not have to be in the same room as the other party, the Court will allocate separate rooms in appropriate cases. You must attend the conciliation conference.

Stage 1: Introduction

The Registrar will explain what is to happen and a short discussion will take place about the issues in dispute. The Registrar will then tell you how the settlement discussions will proceed. The process adopted will depend on factors such as the need for separate interviews and the complexity of the financial circumstances of your case.

You may speak privately to your lawyer at any time during the conference – just let the Registrar know.

Stage 2: Settlement discussions

Your lawyers may not necessarily be present with you in the same room throughout the whole of this stage. The Registrar will assist you and the other party in discussing ways to settle your dispute.

Stage 3: Conclusion

With your lawyers present the Registrar will sum up what has happened, highlighting matters that have been agreed. If you have reached agreement on all issues, your lawyers may prepare terms of settlement for you to sign so that the Court can make consent orders.

If you have been unable to reach final agreement, the Registrar will make procedural orders about what is to happen next. These may include:

  • an order about disclosure of documents
  • an order to obtain an expert’s report
  • an order to make a compulsory offer to settle
  • an order to adjourn to another conference. This will only occur if the Registrar determines the matter is close to resolution and/or for some other reason it is premature to allow it to proceed further, or
  • orders leading towards listing the case for a Trial.

How do I prepare for the Conciliation Conference?

So that you and the other party can make the best possible use of the conference, you must exchange information and documents before the conference, and also provide information to the Court in advance.

Ordinarily there will be only one conciliation conference and parties are therefore required to prepare properly for the conference and comply with all orders and directions made at the procedural hearing. Second and subsequent conferences will generally only be convened in the event that a Registrar determines there is a reasonable prospect that the matter will settle if a further conference is convened.

If you have not already done so, you have until seven days before the Conference, to exchange:

  • the Conciliation Conference Document
  • any documents containing evidence about your financial status, if not already exchanged. These are the same documents you were required to exchange before the first hearing. Failing to disclose documents will have serious consequences for the outcome of your case. Read the disclosing documents page for more information.
  • any other documents the Court requires you to exchange, or that you agree to provide.

The Conciliation Conference Document

If you do not supply the document, the Conference may not go ahead and you may be ordered to pay the other party’s court costs as a result.

The matters to be set out in the document include your:

  • financial circumstances at the date you married or started living together;
  • contributions and details of paid work during your time together;
  • future needs and financial resources; and
  • proposal to settle the case.

Other documents

In addition to the documents listed on the disclosure page, you need to exchange documents containing evidence about:

  • the financial matters mentioned in the party’s Financial Statement and the Conciliation Conference Document completed by the party for the conference;
  • financial contributions made when the parties began living together;
  • any inheritances, gifts or compensation payments received after the parties began living together;
  • any purchase of property since the parties separated;
  • any sale of property;
  • any increase or reduction of liabilities since the parties separated;
  • the value of any superannuation interest of a party, including the basis on which the value has been worked out and any documents used to work out the value; and
  • any other documents ordered at the procedural hearing or otherwise, or agreed between the parties to be exchanged.

Confidentiality

What is said in settlement negotiations in a conciliation conference is covered by privilege, meaning that what is said can only be used in Court later if the parties agree (or waive the privilege). The main exception is that Court staff are required by law to report to a child welfare authority if certain matters about child abuse are raised in the conciliation conference.

Next steps

Follow the procedural orders made by the Judicial Officer. The next step may be:

If, for any reason, the conciliation conference is unable to proceed, the Registrar conducting the conciliation conference may:

  • adjourn the conference and make additional procedural orders;
  • make an order for costs;
  • list the matter for further procedural orders; and/or
  • list the matter for consideration of dismissal of the matter, or other appropriate orders.

If the conciliation conference discussions help you come to an agreement with the other party, you can file a minute of consent orders at any time before the final orders are made.


Last updated: 16-Apr-2018

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