Understanding An Interlocutory Application In Australian Court Proceedings

Zeinab Farhatpetro kaloterakisAuthor: Zeinab Farhat & Petro Kaloterakis, Progressive Legal

interlocutory application

Understanding Australian court proceedings can be challenging for parties to a dispute especially when it comes to understanding an interlocutory application. Despite its complexity, grasping this aspect of the litigation process is essential for navigating court proceedings. 

On this page, we will simplify interlocutory applications in the Australian legal context, covering definitions, steps, and types. We will help you navigate and apply interlocutory measures effectively.

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What is an interlocutory application? 

Interlocutory applications come into play when there is a need for urgent court intervention. This could be to obtain a temporary injunction, compel a party to provide specific documents, or even determine a preliminary point of law.  

For parties to the dispute, this tool becomes valuable when time is of the essence, and immediate relief or clarification is required to ensure the smooth progression of a case. 

When and why use an interlocutory application? 

It’s crucial for employers to understand that stress-related conditions fall within the realm of legitimate medical issues, and therefore employees have a right to take leave to address these concerns.

The Fair Work Act recognises this by explicitly stating that employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their physical or mental health status.  Stress-related conditions may impact physical or mental health concerns. 

What are different types of interlocutory applications?

There are many interlocutory applications that can be made during court proceedings, the most common include: 


Interlocutory injunctions are a common application. Suppose you are a business owner and your business is facing immediate harm. Common examples of such harm in the business context include a breach of contract that threatens irreparable damage to your business.  

In such cases, an interlocutory injunction can halt the harmful actions until the case is fully resolved. 

Discovery of Documents

This application involves requesting the court to compel the opposing party to disclose certain documents relevant to the case. This is particularly useful for parties seeking evidence to strengthen their position. 

Security for Costs

An application for a security of costs serves to protect the defendant from proceedings which have been unduly commenced. Ultimately, where an application for security of costs is approved, it protects defendants which have legitimate concerns about the plaintiff’s ability to pay costs, should the defendant be able to succeed in its defence. 

Stay of Proceedings

A stay of proceedings halts the entire legal process temporarily. This can be useful when there is a parallel process happening in another jurisdiction or if there are ongoing settlement negotiations. 

Amendment of Pleadings

If there is a need to change the pleadings, an interlocutory application can be made to seek the court’s permission for the amendment. Such amendments could include an application to strike out pleadings (i.e. if the pleadings do not disclose a reasonable cause of action or defence).  

Joinder or Removal of a Party

Parties can apply to have a party joined to proceedings, or removed as a party if that party has been improperly/ unnecessarily joined to the proceedings.  


Parties can make applications for interrogatories, which are essentially questions that one party is required to answer. The answers to interrogatories must be in writing and the court may use the answers to those questions as evidence in the proceedings.  

Default Judgment Applications

A default judgment application is a type of interlocutory application that occurs when one party fails to respond or defend the legal proceedings within the stipulated time frame. The time frame is usually 28 days from the date of serving the defendant with a statement of claim.   

In such cases, the plaintiff may apply for a default judgment, essentially requesting the court to rule in their favour due to the defendant’s failure to respond to the statement of claim. A defendant can also file an interlocutory application to set aside a default judgement.

What are the steps to make an interlocutory application?

Making an interlocutory application involves a structured process, which includes:

Notice of Motion

Prepare a Notice of Motion outlining the orders sought and the grounds for the application. UCPR rule 18.3 provides a list of what must be included in a notice of motion. 

Affidavit in support

Support your application with a detailed affidavit. This document sets out the evidence which the party intends to rely upon to support the orders sought by the notice of motion.  

Check out our guide to affidavits for more information.

Serve Documents

Serve the Notice of Motion and the supporting affidavit to all relevant parties within the specified timeframes.

Court Appearance

Attend the court hearing on the specified date. Be prepared to present your case and respond to any queries from the court.


If the court grants the application, it will issue orders outlining the interim relief or directions. 

Interlocutory Applications and Business Owners 

Now, let us connect the dots for business owners. Imagine your company is entangled in a contractual dispute that threatens to disrupt your operations. An interlocutory application can be your strategic move to swiftly address the issue and maintain business continuity. 

For example, if a former employee is about to disclose sensitive information to a competitor, seeking an interlocutory injunction can prevent this disclosure, safeguarding your business interests until the dispute is fully resolved.

Legislation Governing Interlocutory Applications in Australia 

In Australia, the rules and procedures for interlocutory applications vary between jurisdictions.  

For instance, in the Federal Court, Part 17 of the Federal Court Rules 2011 governs interlocutory matters. Understanding these rules is crucial for effective navigation of the legal process.

Tips for Businesses Dealing with an Interlocutory Application 

Prompt Action

Time is often of the essence in legal matters. Promptly addressing issues through interlocutory applications can prevent further harm to your business. 

Legal Representation

Engaging experienced legal counsel is crucial. A lawyer well-versed in interlocutory applications can strategically present your case and maximise the chances of success for the application. 

Evidence Gathering

The strength of your interlocutory application lies in the evidence provided. Thoroughly gather and present relevant documents and information to support your case.

Key Takeaways

Interlocutory applications are like legal pit stops – a strategic pause in the race to ensure you and/ or your business crosses the finish line successfully. Understanding the interlocutory meaning and its applications empowers individuals and business owners to navigate the legal landscape with confidence. 

At Progressive Legal, we are here to assist you on your legal journey. Whether it is making sense of interlocutory applications or providing comprehensive legal support, we are here to help.  

To get in touch with our experienced dispute resolution lawyers, call us on 1800 820 083 or request our advice below. 

Need dispute resolution help?

Contact us by giving us a call on 1800 820 083 or request our advice today.  

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