Conferences in FVRO cases

Conferences are a type of mediation that take place at a court building. They are a way of trying to resolve disputes in family violence restraining order (FVRO) cases without having to go to a final order hearing at court.

If you are applying for an FVRO, you can agree to go to a conference in your case if one is available when you complete your application. You do this by not objecting to your case being listed for a conference.

If you are given an interim FVRO and object to the FVRO you can agree to a conference when you complete your court paperwork. You do this by not objecting to your case being listed for a conference if one is available.

If you receive a notice to come to court about an FVRO, you may also be asked when the case first comes to court if you object to participating in a conference.

It is a good idea to speak to a lawyer about whether to participate in a conference, and if you attend, to have a lawyer represent you at the conference.

This information will help you understand more about conferences in FVRO cases. Find out:

  • when conferences can take place
  • what happens at conferences and who can attend
  • the benefits of conferences
  • what can happen if someone fails to attend a conference.

The video below has been produced by the Magistrates Court of WA and explains FVRO Conferencing (view the video transcript).

 

 

When can conferences take place?

A conference can only take place if both the applicant and respondent agree to participate. The applicant is the person who has applied for the FVRO and the respondent is the person who has objected to the FVRO. The applicant is usually the person who wants to be protected by the FVRO.

A conference will only be able to take place if a conference is available at the court where the case is being heard. 

If both the applicant and respondent agree to a conference and one is available, the court will set a time and date for the conference.

If either the applicant or the respondent object to participating in a conference the case will be given a court date for a final order hearing.

What happens at a conference?

The applicant and respondent are each in separate rooms in different locations in the court building and do not see each other during the conference. This type of conference is sometimes called a “shuttle conference”. 

A court person called a registrar runs the conference. The registrar will move back and forth between the room of the applicant and the room of the respondent. The registrar is independent. This means they are not on the side of the applicant or the respondent. Their role is to help the applicant and respondent to try and reach an agreement. Registrars are very experienced in helping people explore ways to try and resolve their disputes.

What are the benefits of a conference?

By going to a conference and working with the registrar the applicant and respondent have a chance to:

  • explore options to make an agreement about the FVRO that suits their situation, and
  • get the best possible outcome.

Reaching an agreement at a conference means the case will not need to go to court for a final order hearing avoiding stress and cost. It can also sort out disputes about the FVRO more quickly than waiting for a final order hearing.

Who can go to a conference?

The applicant and respondent can go to the conference with their lawyers, if they have one. It is a good idea to try to organise for a lawyer to represent you at a conference. Visit the webpage Get help  for where to get legal help for a conference.

The applicant and respondent are allowed to have one or more support people in the room with them at the conference. They are not allowed to bring a support person who will be a witness or a party in their case if it goes to a final order hearing. The registrar must approve the support person.

Are conferences confidential?

What is talked about in the conference is confidential and will be kept private. Only the people who go to the conference will know what is talked about.  The things said in the conference will not be told to the court.

How long does a conference go for?

How long each conference goes will be different in each case. The court will allow 2 hours for a conference. 

What are the possible outcomes of a conference?

An agreement might be reached in the case in a number of ways. This might be by:

  • the respondent agreeing to a final FVRO and withdrawing their objection
  • the applicant and respondent agreeing to a conduct agreement order
  • the respondent agreeing to an undertaking and the applicant withdrawing their FVRO application, or
  • the applicant withdrawing their application for an FVRO.

The parties might also agree to put the court case off (this is known as an adjournment) for something to be done. For example, for the respondent to go to counselling, or for someone to get legal advice, or to complete a parenting plan and then come back to court to finalise the case.

If the parties don’t reach an agreement at the conference the case will go back to court for a final order hearing. 

What might happen if someone fails to go to a conference?

You should try your best to go to the conference unless you have a good reason, such as being sick. If you cannot attend you should ring the court as soon as possible before the conference and ask if the conference can be put off to another day.

If the applicant doesn’t go to the conference the registrar may dismiss their application for an FVRO. If the respondent doesn’t go to the conference, the registrar is allowed to hear what the applicant has to say about why they want an FVRO. The registrar after hearing what the applicant has to say may decide to make a final FVRO.

More information

For more information on conferences visit the Magistrates Court of WA webpage Conferencing 

 

Reviewed: 10 June 2021

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.