Step by step guide: Applying to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
You must apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia within 14 days of Fair Work Commission (the Commission) issuing a certificate saying that conciliation hasn't resolved your dispute.
If the Commission member who did your conciliation told you that you don't have a good case, or it doesn't have merit, or doesn't have 'reasonable prospects of success', or if they wrote this on your certificate, you should get urgent
legal advice before making a claim in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
Step 1: Get the general protections claim form and the application form
You will need two forms:
- Application - Fair Work Division
- Form 2 - Claim under the Fair Work Act 2009 alleging dismissal in contravention of a general protection.
You can get copies of these forms from:
your nearest Federal Circuit and Family Court registry, or
the General federal law forms pages on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
Step 2: Fill in the forms
You can fill out the forms by hand using a blue or black pen (make sure it's neat). You can also fill them out online and then print them. When filling them out, you will need:
- your details (as you are the employee)
- the details of your job, such as who you worked for, how long you were employed, what you did and where you worked
- the details of your lawyer or union (if you are represented)
- the address that you want the court to use to send things to you (usually your postal address)
- the details of the laws you think your employer broke when they dismissed you
- to know what you want the Court to do (this is called a 'remedy'), for example give you your job back or order your employer to pay you compensation
- a copy of the certificate given to you by
the Commission (if you don't know what this is, see
Going to the Fair Work Commission).
Once you have filled in all the information, you need to sign the form. If you have a lawyer or a union representative, they can sign the form for you.
Step 3: File the forms
Once you have completed your forms, you need to file them at a court registry. To find your nearest registry, see Court locations on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
The filing fee is $77.80 (as at 1 July 2022).
For more information, see General federal law fees on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
If you are experiencing financial hardship or you receive a Centrelink payment you may be able to get your fee reduced.
For more information, see Guidelines for exemption of court fees on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
You should file at least four copies of each form, including the originals. The Court will keep the originals. One copy of each will need to be served on (given to) your employer. Another copy of each will need to be included in the Affidavit of Service (which is the proof the claim was served). You should keep the remaining copies for your records.
Step 4: Serve the claim and application
What does 'serve' mean?
Serve means to give the claim and application to your employer. A general protections claim and application need to be served by hand (which is also called 'personal service'). If your employer is an individual, you must:
- give them your claim and application, or
- if they won't take them, putting the documents down in their presence and telling them what they are.
If your employer is a company, you can serve them by:
- posting the claim and application to their registered office (addressing it to the "Proper Officer")
- taking the claim and application to the registered office and leaving them with someone that works for the company
- handing the claim and application to a director of the company.
You can serve the claim and application, or you can get someone else to do it. There are professionals, called 'process servers' who can serve them for you. However, you will have to pay them.
When do they have to be served?
This type of application and claim can be served anytime within 12 months from the date they are filed. It may be possible to serve the claim later, but only if the court gives you permission.
What if I can't serve them?
If you can't serve your employer with your application and claim (for example because you can't find your employer or because they are avoiding you), you may be able to apply to the Court for 'substituted service'. Substituted service means that you can use another way to make sure your employer knows about your application and claim (for example email). You should get
legal advice if you are having trouble serving the claim and application.
How does the Court know that I served the application and claim?
Once you serve your application and claim, you will need to fill out an Affidavit of Service. The Affidavit of Service is evidence that you served your application and claim on your employer. This tells the court that your employer knows about the case. You can get a copy of the form from:
- your nearest Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia registry, or
- the General federal law forms page on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website.
Instructions: Instructions for filling out an Affidavit of Service
Sample: Affidavit of Service
If you used a process server to serve the application and claim, make sure they give you an Affidavit of Service.
Step 5: Wait for the employer's response
What is the 'response'?
The response is a form filed by your employer and given to you. It says what parts of your claim your employer agrees with, what parts they disagree with, and why. If your employer also wants the Court to make any other orders, they can ask for this in the response.
Sample: Response - General Federal Law
When should I get the response?
Your employer must file their response and serve it on (give it to) you within 14 days of getting your application and claim.
What happens next?
When you originally filed the claim, the Court would have added a date and time for the 'first directions hearing' to the application. You can check this by looking at your copy of the application that was sealed (stamped) by the Court. The first directions hearing is the first time the case is in court. Even if you haven't received a response from the employer, you should make sure you attend the first directions hearing.
For more information, see
For answers to commonly asked questions, see
Going to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia - Frequently Asked Questions.