The Federal Circuit Court of Australia Legislation Amendment Act 2012 came into effect on Friday (12 April), changing the name of the Court and the titles of its officers.
The chief federal magistrate will now be known as the chief judge, and federal magistrates will be judges.
The jurisdiction, status and arrangements under which the Court operates haven’t changed and there will be no impact on litigants.
Chief judge of the Federal Circuit Court, John Pascoe AO CVO, said that the change of name more accurately reflects the Court’s modern role in the federal court system.
“It acknowledges its broad Commonwealth jurisdiction in both family law and general federal law and the inclusion of circuit to the name highlights the importance of the Court’s work in regional locations.
“The Court has continuously evolved and the change of name reflects that change.”
The Federal Magistrates Court was established in 2000 with the aim of delivering flexibility and simplified procedures that would reduce delays for litigants.
Since that time the Court has experienced significant growth in workload, judicial numbers and jurisdiction and it is now the nation’s largest federal court that deals with both family law and general federal law matters.
It deals with more than 85 per cent of family law matters nationally and almost all divorces are filed in the Federal Circuit Court. It also hears approximately 95 per cent of all migration applications that are filed in the federal courts.
The Court started with 10 judicial officers; there are now 63. There were 95,542 applications filed in the Court in 2011-12, almost treble the number (36,435) filed in its first year of operation.
Pascoe added: “While it has been a challenge over the years, the Court has successfully met its original objective of avoiding undue delay for litigants and it has an outstanding reputation for efficiency and hard work.”
The new website address for the Court is www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au