The Commercial Division aims to provide a fast, cost-effective and fair alternative for the resolution of commercial disputes. This is achieved through a reduced need for costly interlocutory appearances, the availability of trial dates within six months of first administrative mention, extremely low rates of not reached cases and fast average time to judgment (see Commercial Division Trial Data here). Trials are heard by a judge experienced in Commercial Law. Interlocutory steps are managed by the Duty Judge and a Judicial Registrar. There is no monetary limit on the County Court’s jurisdiction in civil disputes.
Nearly 50% of all civil initiations in the County Court are now within the Commercial Division. It is a high volume jurisdiction, with over 2600 initiations in the Commercial Division each year.
Constitution of the Commercial Division
The Commercial Divison is established under Order 34A.02 of the Rules of Court. His Honour Judge Cosgrave is the Head of the Division.
Order 34A.05 of the Rules of Court provides that the Commercial Division shall consist of -
(a) any proceeding in which the plaintiff claims the recovery of a debt, damages (other than damages referred to in Rule 34A.03) or any property;
(b) any proceeding relating to trusts;
(c) any appeal from or review of an order, decision or determination of a court or of a person or body, not being a court, in a civil proceeding which may be brought in or made by the Court or under any Act;
(d) any proceeding not entered in any other list.
Order 34A.06 of the Rules of Court provides for the Commercial Division to be divided into the following Lists:
Expedited Cases List
Banking and Finance List
Building Cases List
General Cases List
Practice Notes for the Commercial Division can be found here.
Recent Commercial Division judgments can be found here.
Management of Cases in the Commercial Division
Proceedings are entered in the Commercial Division and the relevant List by the plaintiff's practitioner nominating the Division and List in the Request to Enter List form (found in the Civil Forms section) at the time the proceeding is issued.
With the exception of proceedings in the Expedited Cases List, the filing of an appearance will trigger the Administrative Mention procedure. A notice will be sent by the Court to the parties requiring the parties to submit consent orders to the Court designed to manage the interlocutory processes and to allow the Court to nominate a trial date. It is expected that in the majority of cases the parties' practitioners will resolve issues arising during the interlocutory stages of the proceeding to ensure that the case progresses to a hearing date at the earliest opportunity.
If the parties do not agree upon appropriate interlocutory directions, the Court should be immediately contacted through the Directions Group (or the case of the Expedited Cases List, the associate to the Judical Registars) to nominate a date for a Directions Hearing, at which time these matters can be discussed.
Commercial Division Duty Judge Roster 2017
|February||Judge Lewitan (from 6/2)|
|May||Judge Anderson (until 9/6)|
|June||Judge Cosgrave (from 13/6)|
The Head of the Commercial Division also manages all circuit proceedings for this Division.
Practitioners Users Group
A Users Group has been established comprising:
- Law Institute of Victoria representatives: Mark Yorston
- Victorian Bar representative: Peter Lithgow, Stephen Grahame, Robert Cameron, Aphrodite Kouloubaritsis, Ian Percy, Elizabeth Bennett
- Law Firm representatives: Mark Worsnop, Kahn Lawyers; Richard Leder, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Bettina Evert
Four Ways to Expeditious Resolution of Commercial Disputes in the County Court
An address delivered on 3 June 2010 for the Victorian Bar Continuing Legal Education Committee and the Commercial Bar Association
by Judge Frank Shelton, Judge Rachelle Lewitan, Judge Maree Kennedy and Judge Timothy Ginnane.