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Financial management and organisational performance

From 1 July 2016, the Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016 established the amalgamated entity, known as the Federal Court of Australia (the entity).

The financial figures outlined in this report are for the consolidated results of the Federal Court, the National Native Title Tribunal, the Family Court, the Federal Circuit Court, the Commonwealth Courts Corporate Services and the Commonwealth Courts Registry Services.

The financial statements for 2019–20 include changes to the accounting treatment of operating leases as a result of the impact of changes to the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) 16 Leases. The financial statements show an operating surplus of $15.327 million before depreciation costs of $29.955 million and taking into account principal repayments of lease liabilities of $17.082 million. The entity was budgeting a break-even position for the year, with the surplus stemming from projects that have been delayed to future years following uncertainty surrounding the passage of legislation. The Courts operate under strict budgetary controls ensuring that the entity operates within the appropriation.

The next three-year budget cycle continues to challenge the entity to make further savings. With over 60 per cent of the entity’s costs relating to property and judicial costs, which are largely fixed, the ability to reduce overarching costs is limited.

In 2017–18, the entity received $14 million in additional funding under the Modernisation Fund over a three-year period. This funding enabled the entity to deliver a digital court file for family law and supported the Courts’ ongoing digital transformation. With funding ceasing in 2020–21, the entity will continue the digital transformation project through reallocation of internal resources.