What is a Guillotine Order?

You’re probably thinking of a guillotine as referring to the instrument used for capital punishment. However, a guillotine order is something very different in a legal context. Rather, courts and tribunals use guillotine order’s as a tool to manage delays within the legal system. Read our guide to find out more about what a guillotine order entails.

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What Are Guillotine Orders?

In short, courts utilise a guillotine order as a method of putting stagnant matters to an end. You would most commonly see guillotine orders used in situations involving time-wasting applicants. Generally, these people do not follow the directions of the court and therefore cause unneeded delay. Judges use guillotine orders as an important case management tool.

Although not commonly discussed, these orders are a handy way of ensuring matters are dealt with in a timely and efficient manner. This reflects the core civil procedure principal of case management.

For instance, in New South Wales, the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005 (NSW) governs this area. Specifically, Rule 2.1 states the court may make an order for the conduct of any proceeding as appears convenient for the just, quick and cheap disposal of the proceedings. This allows the court to make orders or directions to speed up the process.

When Do You Use These Orders?

So you may be wondering when you would see a guillotine order used? They are most commonly used when the applicant is wasting the courts time and causing unnecessary delay. It may also be due to the applicant’s non-compliance with the directions of a tribunal or court order.

However, some view guillotine orders as problematic. For instance, this was discussed in the Queensland case Bruce v Palazzi [2006]. Here, the Judge stated guillotine orders are apt to cause trouble. He also argued these orders should be made with caution given the dire consequences that sometimes result.

The Difference Between Guillotine Orders and Self-Executing Orders

Confusion commonly arises in the difference between self-executing orders and guillotine orders. In summary, a self-executing order is where a party is ordered to carry out a certain action by a specific date. If the party does not comply, the proceedings will be automatically dismissed.

This slightly differs from a guillotine order. Here, there is no automatic dismissal of the proceeding. On the other hand, a guillotine order is a conditional order. Here, you would commonly make a further order if the required actions of the applicant are not fulfilled. The further order is generally a self-executing order.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately these orders play an important role in case management. Moreover, they are particularly valuable in the operation of tribunals such as NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). This is because these tribunals face great delays as a result of non-compliant and dilatory applicants. If you need assistance with your legal proceedings, we recommend consulting a lawyer. For assistance when choosing a lawyer, read our guide ‘5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Civil Litigation Lawyer‘.

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