Federal Circuit Court of Australia
The Federal Circuit Court of Australia (known until 2013 as the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia) is an Australian court established by the Federal Magistrates Act 1999 (Cth), now known as the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999. Its first judicial officers were appointed in 2000. On 12 April 2013, in recognition of its increased jurisdiction and its role as an intermediate court servicing regional centres as well as capital cities throughout Australia, it was renamed the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and its judicial officers received the title "Judge" instead of "Federal Magistrate". The Court was created to deal with the increasing workload of the Federal Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia, by hearing less complex cases for them and freeing them to deal only with more complex cases. The Court now hears over 70% of applications filed in the federal courts. It is also intended to replace (in part) the federal jurisdiction with which state courts have been invested under the Judiciary Act 1903.
There are now over 60 judges of the Court. The first Chief Federal Magistrate, Diana Bryant left the court in 2004 when she was appointed Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, the third person to be appointed that position since the establishment of the Family Court. The current Chief Judge is John Pascoe AC, CVO. The current judges of the Court come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including barristers, solicitors, academic lawyers, and legal aid and public service lawyers.
- 1 List of Federal Circuit Court Judges
- 2 Jurisdiction
- 3 Controversies
- 4 References
- 5 External links
List of Federal Circuit Court Judges
The judges of the Court are (as of January 2012):
|Donald, WarrenWarren Donald||Parramatta||13 June 2000|
|Mead, ChristineChristine Mead||Adelaide||13 June 2000|
|Baumann, MichaelMichael Baumann||Brisbane||19 June 2000|
|Brewster, JimJim Brewster||Canberra||19 June 2000|
|Hartnett, NorahNorah Hartnett||Melbourne||19 June 2000|
|Scarlett, StephenStephen Scarlett||Sydney||19 June 2000|
|Coker, JohnJohn Coker||Townsville||26 June 2000|
|Driver, RolfRolf Driver||Sydney||31 July 2000|
|Raphael, KennethKenneth Raphael||Sydney||31 July 2000|
|Roberts, StuartStuart Roberts||Launceston||4 December 2000|
|Phipps, MauriceMaurice Phipps||Melbourne||18 December 2000|
|Connolly, MichaelMichael Connolly||Melbourne||4 June 2001|
|Brown, StewartStewart Brown||Adelaide||5 November 2001|
|Barnes, ShenaghShenagh Barnes||Sydney||5 November 2001|
|Coakes, GilesGiles Coakes||Newcastle||12 January 2004|
|Lindsay, StuartStuart Lindsay||Adelaide||19 January 2004|
|Jarrett, MichaelMichael Jarrett||Brisbane||2 February 2004|
|Emmett, SylviaSylvia Emmett||Sydney||5 July 2004|
|Pascoe, JohnJohn Pascoe AC, CVO||Sydney||14 July 2004||Chief Judge|
|Riethmuller, GrantGrant Riethmuller||Melbourne||19 July 2004|
|Lloyd-Jones, MichaelMichael Lloyd-Jones||Sydney||26 July 2004|
|O'Dwyer, DanielDaniel O'Dwyer||Melbourne||2 August 2004|
|Smith, MatthewMatthew Smith||Sydney||2 August 2004|
|Nicholls, NickNick Nicholls||Sydney||23 August 2004|
|Sexton, RobynRobyn Sexton||Sydney||27 September 2004|
|Lapthorn, KevinKevin Lapthorn||Brisbane||29 August 2005|
|Henderson, LouiseLouise Henderson||Parramatta||28 November 2005|
|Hughes, KateKate Hughes||Melbourne||30 January 2006|
|Riley, HeatherHeather Riley||Melbourne||3 July 2006|
|Burchardt, PhilipPhilip Burchardt||Melbourne||10 July 2006|
|O'Sullivan, JohnJohn O'Sullivan||Melbourne||10 July 2006|
|Halligan, DavidDavid Halligan||Parramatta||31 July 2006|
|Lucev, ToniToni Lucev||Perth||14 August 2006|
|Turner, FrankFrank Turner||Melbourne||3 October 2006|
|Cameron, RobertRobert Cameron||Sydney||3 October 2006|
|Altobelli, TomTom Altobelli||Sydney||13 November 2006|
|Burnett, MichaelMichael Burnett||Brisbane||24 November 2006|
|Coates, StephenStephen Coates||Brisbane||24 November 2006|
|Spelleken, LeanneLeanne Spelleken||Brisbane||11 December 2006|
|Kelly, CharlotteCharlotte Kelly||Adelaide||12 March 2007|
|Terry, JanetJanet Terry||Newcastle||10 April 2007|
|Simpson, DenysDenys Simpson||Adelaide||12 June 2007|
|Neville, WarwickWarwick Neville||Canberra||2 July 2007|
|Kemp, DaleDale Kemp||Sydney||4 July 2007|
|Howard, PaulPaul Howard||Brisbane||9 July 2007|
|Purdon-Sully, SusanSusan Purdon-Sully||Brisbane||15 October 2007|
|Cassidy, MargaretMargaret Cassidy||Brisbane||5 November 2007|
|Bender, EvelynEvelyn Bender||Melbourne||15 September 2008|
|Demack, AnneAnne Demack||Brisbane||22 September 2008|
|Walker, JudithJudith Walker||Sydney||22 September 2008|
|McGuire, TerryTerry McGuire||Melbourne||6 October 2008|
|Dunkley, DavidDavid Dunkley||Sydney||13 October 2008|
|Baker, BarbaraBarbara Baker||Hobart||27 October 2008|
|Monahan, GeoffreyGeoffrey Monahan||Sydney||3 November 2008|
|Cole, PeterPeter Cole||Adelaide||24 November 2008|
|Willis, JosephineJosephine Willis||Cairns||27 January 2009|
|Whelan, DominicaDominica Whelan||Melbourne||24 May 2010|
|Harman, JoeJoe Harman||Parramatta||7 June 2010|
|Turner, LeanneLeanne Turner||Darwin||7 June 2010|
|Foster, GarryGarry Foster||Sydney||18 April 2011|
|Myers, MatthewMatthew Myers||Newcastle||23 January 2012|
|Curtain, RonRon Curtain||Melbourne||23 January 2012|
|Harland, AlexandraAlexandra Harland||Darwin||15 March 2013|
|Small, JudithJudith Small||Melbourne||15 March 2013|
Federal Circuit Court judges are assisted by Associates and Deputy Associates, many of whom are qualified lawyers.
The Court sits permanently in each state capital, although in Perth it only hears general federal law matters as the Family Court of Western Australia has sole jurisdiction over family law in that state. The Court also sits permanently in the major regional centres of Launceston, Cairns, Townsville, Parramatta and Newcastle and regularly circuits to a large number of regional cities to hear family law cases. The Court hears some applications and evidence by telephone or video evidence when parties or witnesses live a long way from the Court.
In keeping with the Court's requirement to act as informally as possible, section 3 of the Federal Circuit Court Act, barristers are not required to robe for interim or interlocutory applications and wigs are not worn for any occasion. Barristers are only required to robe for final hearings before the Federal Circuit Court for all judgments, trials and contested hearings in which oral evidence is to be adduce practice direction number 1 of 2010
Bankruptcy, migration and family law comprise the largest components of the Court's work.
There has been a progressive shift over the past 10 years in the balance of workload between the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia, with the majority of all family law matters and most divorces now heard in the Federal Circuit Court. This has resulted in the Family Court of Australia becoming a smaller court which manages all appeals and deals with the most lengthy and complex family law cases.
The Federal Circuit Court's family law jurisdiction covers:
- Parenting – an order regarding the child/children of a marriage or de facto relationship that has broken down.
- Financial – an order relating to the division of property or payment of maintenance following the breakdown of a marriage or eligible de facto relationship.
- Divorce – all applications for divorce, except orders relating to nullity and validity of marriage and divorce.
- Child support – certain applications and appeals.
- Child maintenance – an order for child maintenance in special circumstances.
- Parentage declarations and testing – an order declaring that a person is a parent of a child/children or to assist in determining the parentage of a child/children.
- Contravention – an application alleging a breach of a court order.
- Injunctions – an application for an injunction in a current or pending matter.
- Location and recovery – an order for information or the ability to publish information about a child/children's location or the return of a child/children to a party.
General federal law
The Federal Circuit Court shares jurisdiction with the Federal Court of Australia. The largest volume of the court's general federal law work is in bankruptcy applications and migration. The Federal Circuit Court deals with 95 per cent of all migration applications that are filed in the federal courts. In addition, the Court deals with a significant number of industrial law and human rights matters.
The Federal Circuit Court's general federal law jurisdiction covers the following:
The Court has original jurisdiction under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth). The Court, on remittal from the Federal Court, hears appeals from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
- In personam actions (claims against a specific person or company) such as freight claims and seafarer's wages.
- In rem actions remitted by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and state Supreme Courts.
All civil claims and matters under the Bankruptcy Act 1966, except those requiring jury trials. The vast majority of bankruptcy court cases in Australia are heard by The Federal Circuit Court (92% in 2004-5).
Consumer law (Trade practices)
The Court has civil jurisdiction with respect to claims under the following provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (formerly known as the Trade Practices Act 1974):
- Section 46 (Misuse of Market Power)
- Section IVB (Industry Codes)
- Part XI (Application of the Australian Consumer Law as a law of the Commonwealth), and
- Schedule 2 (Australian Consumer Law).
The Court can provide injunctive relief and award damages of up to $750 000. The Court also has civil jurisdiction with respect to claims under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009. There is provision in certain proceedings for a litigant to elect that an application for compensation be dealt with as a small claims proceeding.
This jurisdiction includes hearing matters relating to (but not limited to) unfair trade practices, product safety and information matters, consumer protection matters, pyramid selling, and importation and manufacture of defective goods.
Federal unlawful discrimination matters under the Australian Human Rights Commissions Act 1986 relating to complaints under the:
- Age Discrimination Act 2004
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992
- Racial Discrimination Act 1974, and
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
The Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Court of Australia to hear and determine complaints of unlawful discrimination based on sex, age, race and disability. Its power to grant relief is wide – it may, for example, grant unlimited damages.
The court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Court for matters under the:
- Fair Work Act 2009
- Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 2009 , and
- the Fair Work Act 2009 confers small claims jurisdiction on the Court for various matters if the compensation is not more than $20 000.
The Court also has jurisdiction in relation to certain matters under the Independent Contractors Act 2006. This jurisdiction is exercised by the Court's Fair Work Division.
Intellectual property (Copyright)
The Court may hear civil claims and matters, under parts V, VAA, IX and Section 248J of the Copyright Act 1968 such as claims for injunctions and damages for breach of copyright.
- Trade Mark/Design – From 15 April 2013, the Federal Circuit Court will have certain jurisdiction under the Trade Marks Act 1995 and the Designs Act 2003. The jurisdiction is comparable to that exercised by the Federal Court except that it will not be able to hear an appeal from another court.
Reform in 2005 limited first instance jurisdiction to the Federal Circuit Court and the High Court to review administrative decisions made by the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, the Refugee Review Tribunal and the Migration Review Tribunal. The Court does not have jurisdiction to undertake a merits review of these types of decisions.
Enforcing determinations of the Privacy Commissioner and private sector adjudicators under the Privacy Act 1988.
In 2006 the Court was embroiled in controversy when it was revealed that Magistrate Jennifer Rimmer had plagiarised the work of her colleagues when writing decisions.
- Federal Magistrates Act 1999 (Cth) s 8.
- Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 in ComLaw
- Federal Attorney-General's announcement
- "Federal Magistrates of the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia". Federal Court of Australia. Retrieved January 2012.
- "PART THREE: PERFORMANCE" (PDF). Federal Magistrates Court. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- Official website
- Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 (Cth) in ComLaw
- Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 (Cth) in ComLaw
- Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulation 2012 (Cth) in ComLaw
- Judgments of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, 2013- in AustLII
- Judgments of the Federal Magistrates Court in general federal law, 2000-2013 in AustLII
- Judgments of the Federal Magistrates Court in family law, 2000-2013 in AustLII