Journalists who have questions relating to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia are encouraged to contact the Court’s Media and Public Affairs Manager regarding their enquiry.

What types of cases are heard in the Federal Circuit Court?

The jurisdiction of the Court includes family law and child support and the following areas of general federal law: administrative law, admiralty law, bankruptcy, consumer law (formerly trade practices), copyright, human rights, industrial, migration and privacy. The Court shares these jurisdictions with the Family Court (in respect of family law and child support) and the Federal Court (in respect of general federal law).

The Federal Circuit Court deals with most divorce applications and the majority of first instance family law applications nationally (excluding Western Australia).

See also: Family law and general federal law jurisdictions

Reporting family law cases

When reporting family law cases it is important to be aware of, and adhere to, the publishing restrictions set out in section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

Section 121 makes it an offence to publish details of proceedings or images that may identify parties and witnesses involved in the proceedings. If a Publication Order has been made by the Court or if another exemption applies, some details of the proceedings and identities may be published. This only applies in limited circumstances.

See also: Missing Children

Reporting migration cases

Section 91X of the Migration Act 1958 provides that the Court cannot publish a person's name where the person has applied for a protection visa or a protection-related visa or where these types of visas have been cancelled.

In addition, the Court has powers to make suppression and non-publication orders.

Court policy on the use of electronic devices in court

The use of cameras, mobile phones and tablets and other electronic equipment in the courtroom is restricted. 

See: Mobile phones, tablets, cameras and other recording equipment in the Federal Circuit Court and courtrooms

Background information on the Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia was established by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 (the Act) as an independent federal court under Chapter III of the Australian Constitution. Prior to 12 April 2013, under the Federal Magistrates Act 1999, the Court was known as the Federal Magistrates Court.

The objective of the Court is to provide a simple and more accessible alternative to litigation in the Family Court and the Federal Court and to relieve the workload of those courts.

The Chief Judge of the Court is John Pascoe and the Chief Executive Officer is Richard Foster.

Judges are based in all capital cities and the regional cities of Cairns, Launceston, Newcastle and Townsville. The Court also conducts regular circuits in rural and regional areas.

See also: About the Federal Circuit Court

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia

When reporting on courts exercising jurisdiction under the Family Law Act  it is important to understand that there are two Commonwealth courts where that jurisdiction is predominantly exercised. In addition, family law cases filed in the State of Western Australia are dealt with by the Family Court of Western Australia.

The number of cases that are now dealt with in the Family Court, at first instance, represents a small percentage of all family law cases as the majority of parenting cases are now heard in the Federal Circuit Court. Since the establishment of the Federal Circuit Court in 2000, there has been a progressive shift in the balance of filings between the two courts, with the majority of all family law parenting cases now filed in the Federal Circuit Court. More information on the Family Court of Australia is available from www.familycourt.gov.au

Media access to court records in general federal law matters (excludes family law)

The Federal Circuit Court applies the same policy to non-party (media) access to court records as the Federal Court. 

See: Media Access to Court Documents (Federal Court)

Media access to court records in family law and child support matters

A person who is not a party (or their lawyer) to family law and child support proceedings cannot access court records without leave of the Court. Due to publishing restrictions, access to media and other non-parties is very limited and requests are considered in accordance with the Rules of the Court.

See also: The Court’s policy on access to transcripts

Media related enquiries:

If your enquiry is not media related, please go to: Family Law enquiries or General Federal Law enquiries.

Denise Healy, National Media and Public Affairs Manager
Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia
Telephone: (03) 8600 4357 or 0409 743 695
Email: denise.healy@federalcircuitcourt.gov.au

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