About the Court

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC) 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 and its judicial officers as federal magistrates. The Court was established to handle less complex matters in the areas of family law and general federal law.

The Court sits in all capital cities and selected major regional centres, and circuits to a number of regional locations. The Court is a federal court of record and a court of law and equity.

There were nine appointments in 2017–18: Chief Judge Alstergren to the Melbourne registry; Judge Patrizia Mercuri to the Melbourne registry; Judge Jane Costigan to the Newcastle registry; Judge Gregory Egan to the Brisbane registry; Judge Christopher Kendall to the Perth registry; Judge Caroline Kirton to the Melbourne registry; Judge Julia Baird to the Sydney registry; Judge Terry Betts to the Newcastle registry; and Judge Bruce Smith to the Sydney registry.

Objective

The provisions of the Act enable the Court to operate as informally as possible in the exercise of judicial power, use streamlined procedures and make use of a range of dispute resolution processes to resolve matters without judicial decisions.

Purpose

The purpose of the FCC is to provide a simple and accessible alternative to litigation in the Family Court of Australia (FCoA) and the Federal Court of Australia (FCA) and to provide efficient and effective registry services to assist the respective courts to achieve their stated purpose.

Jurisdiction

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

Family law and child support

The FCC exercises all aspects of jurisdiction in the Family Law Act 1975 with the exception of adoption and applications for nullity or validity of marriage. The Court has the same jurisdiction as the FCoA in relation to child support.

This includes:

  • applications for divorce
  • applications concerning spousal maintenance
  • property disputes (including de facto jurisdiction)
  • all parenting orders, including those providing for where a child lives, with whom a child spends time and communicates, and maintenance or specific issues
  • enforcement of orders made by either the FCC or the FCoA
  • location and recovery orders as well as warrants for the apprehension or detention of a child, and
  • determination of parentage and recovery of child-bearing expenses.

Jurisdiction upon transfer from the FCoA

The FCC also has jurisdiction to hear any matter within the jurisdiction of the FCoA that the FCoA transfers to the FCC.

General federal law

The FCC deals with a wide range of matters, sharing jurisdiction with the FCA and, in some cases, state courts. The Court’s Rules and procedures are simpler and less formal and aim to reduce the cost and number of court appearances.

Where the Court has jurisdiction in a matter, it also has jurisdiction to determine associated or inseverable claims that would otherwise not be within jurisdiction.

Following is more information about the FCC’s jurisdiction in the various areas of general federal law.

Administrative

  • Matters under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977.
  • Judicial review of ‘child support first reviews’ under s 44AAA of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (provided that the decision does not involve a presidential member).
  • Appeals from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) remitted from the FCA.

Admiralty

  • In personam actions (claims against a specific person or company) such as freight claims, damage claims and seafarers’ wages.
  • In rem actions remitted by the FCA and state supreme courts.

Bankruptcy

All civil claims and matters under the Bankruptcy Act 1966, except those requiring jury trials.

Consumer

Claims under the following provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (formerly 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 up to $750,000.

In relation to certain claims for $40,000 or less, litigants can elect to use the small claims procedure of the Court.

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.

Human rights

Federal unlawful discrimination matters under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 relating to complaints under the:

  • Age Discrimination Act 2004
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975, and
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

Industrial

Concurrent with the FCA, matters under the:

  • Fair Work Act 2009
  • Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 2009, and
  • Workplace Relations Act 1996 (in so far as it continues to apply).

This jurisdiction is to be exercised by the Fair Work Division of the Court.

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 some jurisdiction in relation to certain matters under the Independent Contractors Act 2006, the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 and the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016.

Intellectual property (including copyright, trade marks and design)

Copyright – Copyright Act 1968

Civil claims and matters under Parts V, VAA, IX and s 248J of the Copyright Act 1968, such as claims for injunctions and damages for breach of copyright.

Trade marks – Trade Marks Act 1995

  • Appeals from decisions of the Registrar of Trade Marks – ss 35, 56, 67, 83(2), 83A(8), 84A–84D and 104.
  • Infringement actions – ss 120–128 and under ss 129 and 130.
  • Revocation of registration under ss 88 and 89.
  • Decision on whether a person has used a trade mark under s 7.
  • Determining whether trade mark has become generic – ss 24, 87 and 89.
  • Amendment or cancellation of registration under ss 85 and 86.
  • Application for an order to remove a trade mark registration for non-use – s 92(3).
  • Application for rectification of register by order of court under s 181.
  • Variation of rules governing use of certification trade mark under s 182.

Design – Designs Act 2003

  • Appeals from decisions of the Registrar of Designs: ss 28(5), 67(4), 68(6), 50(6), 52(7) and 54(4).
  • Ability to make a determination of the entitled person during proceedings before the Court under s 53.
  • Infringement actions under ss 71–76.
  • Applications for relief from unjustified threats under ss 77–81.
  • Application for compulsory licences under ss 90–92.
  • Revocation of registration under s 93.
  • For Crown use provisions, provide a determination of the term of use of a design under s 98.
  • Application for a declaration by a court of any Crown use under s 101.
  • Application for the cessation of Crown use of a design under s 102.
  • Rectification of register under s 120D.

Migration

Most first instance judicial reviews of visa-related decisions of the AAT and the Immigration Assessment Authority. The Court does not have jurisdiction to undertake a merits review of these types of decisions.

Privacy

Enforcing determinations of the Privacy Commissioner and private sector adjudicators under the Privacy Act 1988.

Jurisdiction upon transfer from the FCA

Any matter within the jurisdiction of the FCA that the FCA transfers to the FCC.

Changes to the Court’s jurisdiction in 2017–18

The following Acts impacted on the jurisdiction of the Court.

Petroleum and Other Fuels Reporting Act 2017

Introduced with the Petroleum and Other Fuels Reporting (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act 2017 (Cth), the Act establishes a mandatory reporting regime to enable the production of statistics on petroleum, other fuels such as biofuels, and fuel-related products. It makes the FCC a relevant court, in relation to monitoring and civil penalties, for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The Act commenced on 24 August 2017.

Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017

The Act amends the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to implement the Governmentʼs response to recommendations in the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering. It makes the FCC a relevant court, in relation to civil penalties, for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The relevant provisions commenced on 13 September 2017.

Product Emissions Standards Act 2017

The Act establishes a national framework to enable Australia to address the adverse impacts of air pollution from certain products on human and environmental health. It implements a key aspect of the National Clean Air Agreement, established by Australia’s Environment Ministers on 15 December 2015. It makes the FCC a relevant court, in relation to the monitoring, civil penalties and other functions, for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth), and in relation to claims for the return of, or compensation in relation to, seized products. The Act commenced on 15 September 2017.

Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Act 2017

The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Act 2017 (Cth) forms part of a comprehensive package of reforms announced by the Government on 6 May 2017 that aims to improve the sustainability of Australia’s free-to-air broadcasting sector. The other Act forming part of the package is the Commercial Broadcasting (Tax) Act 2017 (Cth). The Act amends the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) to give the FCC jurisdiction in relation to recovery of interim tax and penalties by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The relevant provisions commenced on 17 October 2017.

Defence Legislation Amendment (2017 Measures No. 1) Act 2017

The Act amends the law relating to defence, and for related purposes. Includes amendments to the Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001 (Cth), to give the FCC jurisdiction under that Act, and in relation to civil penalties for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The relevant provisions commenced on 27 November 2017.

Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017

The Act establishes a new framework governing the use of public resources by members of Parliament, and consolidates much of the existing parliamentary work expenses framework and imposes greater obligations concerning the use of public resources. It provides that the FCC is a relevant court in relation to recovery of debts. The Act commenced on 1 January 2018.

Regulatory Powers (Standardisation Reform) Act 2017

The Act amends 15 Acts to remove current provisions providing for regulatory regimes and to apply the standard provisions of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). It makes the FCC a relevant court, for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth), for the following Acts: Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act 2006 (Cth); Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010 (Cth); Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave) Administration Act 1992 (Cth); Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave) Payroll Levy Collection Act 1992 (Cth); Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Act 2012 (Cth); Horse Disease Response Levy Collection Act 2011 (Cth); Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 (Cth); Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth); Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (Cth); Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth); Privacy Act 1988 (Cth); and Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (Cth). Amendments to the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 (Cth) commenced 1 January 2018, and amendments to the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth) commenced 31 March 2018. The remainder of the amendments are yet to commence (and will commence on the day after the end of the 12-month period from 6 November 2017, if not proclaimed before that date).

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment (Authority Governance and Other Matters) Act 2018

The Act amends the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (Cth) to (among other things) change the governance size and structure of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. It includes provisions giving the FCC jurisdiction in relation to claims for compensation. The relevant provisions commenced on 6 March 2018.

Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2017 Measures No. 1) Act 2018

The Act amends the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) to (among other things) give the FCC jurisdiction in relation to injunctions restraining a person from contravening a provision of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth), or compelling a person to comply with a provision of the Act. These provisions are based on the injunction powers set out in Part 7 of the Regulatory Powers Act. The relevant provisions commenced on 6 March 2018.

Defence Legislation Amendment (Instrument Making) Act 2017

The Act amends the Defence Act 1903 (Cth) to replace a number of inquiry-specific regulation-making powers with a consolidated provision relating to inquiries concerning the Defence Force. It makes the FCC a relevant court for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The relevant provisions commenced on 26 March 2018.

Treasury Laws Amendment (2017 Measures No. 5) Act 2018

The Act amends the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) to establish a new licensing regime requiring administrators of designated significant financial benchmarks to obtain a benchmark administrator licence from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), enable ASIC to make rules imposing a regulatory framework for licensed benchmark administrators and related matters, and create offences and penalties for manipulation of financial benchmarks. It includes provisions to make the FCC a relevant court, in relation to enforceable undertakings, for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The relevant provisions commenced on 12 April 2018.

Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018

The Act is designed to strengthen the Government’s capacity to manage the national security risks of espionage, sabotage and coercion arising from foreign involvement in Australia’s critical infrastructure. It includes provisions to make the FCC a relevant court, in relation to civil penalties, enforceable undertakings and injunctions, for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The Act has not yet commenced.

Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Act 2018

The Act amends the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) to introduce new offences for a person recklessly or intentionally representing themselves to be, or to be acting on behalf of, or with the authority of, a Commonwealth entity or service; and introduce a new injunction power to allow authorised persons to seek injunctive relief to prevent a person from engaging in conduct in contravention of the new offences. It makes the FCC a relevant court, in relation to the new injunction powers, for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The Act received Royal Assent on 21 June 2018, and commenced on 22 June 2018.

National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Act 2018

The Act implements the joint response of the Federal Government, the government of each participating state and territory, and each participating non-government institution to recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s Redress and Civil Litigation Report by establishing the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse to operate for a 10-year period from 1 July 2018; providing a payment of up to $150,000 to survivors; providing access to counselling and psychological services to survivors; and providing an option for survivors to receive a direct personal response from the responsible institution. It makes the FCC a relevant court, in relation to civil penalties, for the purposes of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The Act received Royal Assent on 21 June 2018, and commenced on 1 July 2018.

Health Legislation Amendment (Improved Medicare Compliance and Other Measures) Act 2018

The Act amends the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Cth), the Dental Benefits Act 2008 (Cth), and the National Health Act 1953 (Cth), and aims to support the integrity of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), through improvements to the recovery arrangements for Medicare debts owed to the Commonwealth. The Act will strengthen debt recovery powers, standardise administrative arrangements and introduce changes to address corporate billing. The Act amends the National Health Act 1953 (Cth) to make the FCC a relevant court in relation to the civil penalty provisions for the purposes of Part 4 of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The relevant provisions commenced on 1 July 2018.

National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Act 2018

The Act amends the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), to amend existing, and introduce new, espionage offences relating to a broad range of dealings with information, including solicitation and preparation and planning offences; introduce new offences relating to foreign interference with Australia’s political, governmental or democratic processes; replace the existing sabotage offence with new sabotage offences relating to conduct causing damage to a broad range of critical infrastructure that could prejudice Australia’s national security; introduce a new offence relating to theft of trade secrets on behalf of a foreign government; amend existing, and introduces new, offences relating to treason and other threats to national security, such as interference with Australian democratic or political rights by conduct involving the use of force, violence or intimidation; and introduce a new aggravated offence where a person provides false or misleading information relating to an application for, or maintenance of, an Australian Government security clearance. It also amends the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) to replace certain existing, and introduce new, offences relating to secrecy of information; and makes a number of consequential amendments to other Acts. The Act amends the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) to make the FCC a relevant court in relation to injunction powers for the purposes of Part 7 of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (Cth). The relevant provisions will commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation. However, if the provisions do not commence within the period of six months beginning on the day this Act received the Royal Assent (29 June 2018), they commence on the day after the end of that period.

Amendments to fee regulations

There are two fee regulations that apply to proceedings in the Court, one for general federal law proceedings and one for family law proceedings:

  • Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012, and
  • Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulation 2012.

Fee increases to items 103, 104, 209 and 210 of Schedule 1 of the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulation 2012 (applications in relation to dismissals in contravention of Part 3–1 of the Fair Work Act 2009) are calculated in accordance with regulations 3.02 and 3.03 of the Fair Work Regulations 2009.

Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012

There were amendments to the Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012 by way of the Court and Tribunal Legislation Amendment (Fees and Juror Remuneration) Regulations 2018, details of which are set out below.

Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulation 2012

There were amendments to the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court Regulation 2012 by way of the Court and Tribunal Legislation Amendment (Fees and Juror Remuneration) Regulations 2018, details of which are set out below.

Court and Tribunal Legislation Amendment (Fees and Juror Remuneration) Regulations 2018

From 1 July 2018, the Government will apply annual rather than biennial indexation of fees for the federal courts, the National Native Title Tribunal and the AAT, resulting in an increase in revenue of $4.8 million over four years. The Government also announced a fee increase of 3.9 per cent in respect of the fees applying to general federal law proceedings in the Court (and to proceedings in the FCA). This increase will apply from 1 July 2018.

The Government announced that the revenue from this measure will be redirected to repair the Budget and fund policy priorities. The Government will provide $10.7 million over five years from 2017–18 (including $4.5 million in capital funding) to improve the security of the High Court of Australia. The cost of this measure will be partially met through additional revenue of $6.4 million over four years from 2018–19 by increasing fees for the High Court of Australia, the FCA and the general division of the FCC. The increase will not apply to family law fees.

The Legislation (Family Law Instruments) Sunset-altering Declaration 2018 alters the sunsetting dates of the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 (as well as other rules pertaining to family law proceedings). The FCC Rules were scheduled to sunset on 1 October 2019. The federal courts made a joint submission to the 2017 Sunsetting Review Committee, supporting the exemption of Rules of Court from sunsetting. In its report on the Operation of the Sunsetting Provisions in the Legislation Act 2003, the committee recommended that Rules of Court should not be subject to sunsetting (Recommendation 34).

The Legislation Amendment (Sunsetting Review and Other Measures) Bill 2018 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 28 June 2018. Among other things, the Bill will, if passed, exclude Rules of Court from the operation of the sunsetting framework under the Legislation Act 2003 (details can be found at www.ag.gov.au/LegalSystem/AdministrativeLaw/Pages/Review-of-the-sunsetting-framework-under-the-legislation-act-2003.aspx).

Organisational structure

Organisational structure of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, 30 June 2018

Organisational structure of the FCC as at 30 June 2018

Judicial officers

Judges are appointed by the Governor-General by commission as justices in accordance with Chapter III of the Australian Constitution. A judge is appointed for a term expiring when they reach the age of 70 years.

Section 8 of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 provides that the Court consists of a Chief Judge and such other judges as appointed.

At 30 June 2018, 69 judges held appointment to the Court (including the Chief Judge).

The remuneration arrangements for all judicial officers and the Chief Executive Officer and Principal Registrar are governed by enforceable determinations of the Remuneration Tribunal (further details including relevant determinations are available at www.remtribunal.gov.au).

Table 2.1 lists the FCC judges as at 30 June 2018, and their location and appointment date.

Table 2.1: Federal Circuit Court of Australia Judges, 30 June 2018

Chief Judge

Location

Appointment date

William Alstergren

Melbourne

13 October 2017

Judge

Location

Appointment date

Christine Mead

Adelaide

13 June 2000

Norah Hartnett

Melbourne

19 June 2000

Rolf Driver

Sydney

31 July 2000

Stewart Brown

Adelaide

5 November 2001

Shenagh Barnes

Sydney

5 November 2001

Michael Jarrett

Brisbane

2 February 2004

Sylvia Emmett

Sydney

5 July 2004

Grant Riethmuller

Melbourne

19 July 2004

Nick Nicholls

Sydney

23 August 2004

Kevin Lapthorn

Brisbane

29 August 2005

Louise Henderson

Sydney

28 November 2005

Kate Hughes

Canberra

30 January 2006

Heather Riley

Melbourne

3 July 2006

Philip Burchardt

Melbourne

10 July 2006

John O’Sullivan

Melbourne

10 July 2006

Antoni Lucev

Perth

14 August 2006

Robert Cameron

Sydney

3 October 2006

Tom Altobelli

Sydney

13 November 2006

Stephen Coates

Brisbane

27 November 2006

Leanne Spelleken

Brisbane

11 December 2006

Charlotte Kelly

Adelaide

12 March 2007

Janet Terry

Newcastle

10 April 2007

Warwick Neville

Canberra

2 July 2007

Dale Kemp

Sydney

4 July 2007

Paul Howard

Brisbane

9 July 2007

Susan Purdon-Sully

Brisbane

15 October 2007

Margaret Cassidy

Brisbane

5 November 2007

Evelyn Bender

Melbourne

15 September 2008

Anne Demack

Rockhampton

22 September 2008

Terry McGuire

Launceston

6 October 2008

David Dunkley

Parramatta

13 October 2008

Barbara Baker

Hobart

27 October 2008

Geoffrey Monahan

Sydney

3 November 2008

Peter Cole OAM

Adelaide

24 November 2008

Josephine Willis AM

Cairns

27 January 2009

Joseph Harman

Parramatta

7 June 2010

Leanne Turner

Brisbane

7 June 2010

Matthew Myers AM

Parramatta

23 January 2012

Ron Curtain

Melbourne

23 January 2012

Alexandra Harland

Melbourne

15 April 2013

Judith Small

Melbourne

15 April 2013

Suzanne Jones

Melbourne

3 June 2013

Nicholas Manousaridis

Sydney

1 July 2013

Joanne Stewart

Melbourne

2 September 2013

Alexander Street

Sydney

1 January 2015

Salvatore Vasta

Brisbane

1 January 2015

Justin Smith

Sydney

27 January 2015

Ian Newbrun

Parramatta

4 February 2015

Tony Young

Darwin

31 July 2015

Joshua Wilson

Melbourne

2 November 2015

Steven Middleton

Townsville

9 November 2015

Timothy Heffernan

Adelaide

23 November 2015

Philip Dowdy

Sydney

7 December 2015

Elizabeth Boyle

Sydney

29 February 2016

Jillian Williams

Melbourne

29 February 2016

Alister McNab

Melbourne

18 May 2016

Brana Obradovic

Parramatta

30 May 2016

Amanda Tonkin

Canberra

1 January 2017

Robert Harper

Sydney

18 January 2017

Anthony Kelly

Melbourne

6 February 2017

Patrizia Mercuri

Melbourne

25 September 2017

Jane Costigan

Newcastle

8 October 2017

Gregory Egan

Brisbane

18 December 2017

Christopher Kendall

Perth

29 January 2018

Caroline Kirton

Melbourne

29 January 2018

Julia Baird

Sydney

20 February 2018

Terry Betts

Newcastle

30 May 2018

Bruce Smith

Sydney

12 June 2018

Appointments and retirements

There were nine appointments and four retirements during 2017–18.

Appointments

  • Judge Patrizia Mercuri was appointed on 25 September 2017
  • Judge Jane Costigan was appointed on 8 October 2017
  • Chief Judge William Alstergren was appointed on 13 October 2017
  • Judge Gregory Egan was appointed on 18 December 2017
  • Judge Christopher Kendall was appointed on 29 January 2018
  • Judge Caroline Kirton was appointed on 29 January 2018
  • Judge Julia Baird was appointed on 20 February 2018
  • Judge Terry Betts was appointed on 30 May 2018
  • Judge Bruce Smith was appointed on 12 June 2018.
Image of Judge Patrizia Mercuri

Judge Patrizia Mercuri

Image of Judge Jane Costigan

Judge Jane Costigan

Image of Chief Judge William Alstergren

Chief Judge William Alstergren

Image of Judge Gregory Egan

Judge Gregory Egan

Image of Judge Christopher Kendall

Judge Christopher Kendall

Image of Judge Caroline Kirton

Judge Caroline Kirton

Image of Judge Julia Baird

Judge Julia Baird

Image of Judge Terry Betts

Judge Terry Betts

Image of Judge Bruce Smith

Judge Bruce Smith

Retirements

Image of Chief Judge John Pascoe AC CVO

Chief Judge John Pascoe AC CVO

Chief Judge John Pascoe AC CVO resigned from the Court on 12 October 2017 to take up the position of Chief Justice of the FCoA.

Chief Judge Pascoe served as the Chief Judge of the Court since 2004. His Honour was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1994 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2002, and in 2016, was elevated to the rank of Companion of the Order of Australia.

His Honour’s time as Chief Judge of the FCC was marked by significant reform and innovation, including new administrative arrangements for the delivery of corporate services and overseeing the introduction of the Commonwealth Courts Portal and electronic filing. His Honour also led the adoption of a nation-first Reconciliation Action Plan for the Court.

His Honour is recognised for his experience and dedication in the area of family law and his passion and commitment to the welfare of children and in particular to orphaned children in south-east Asia.

Image of Judge Robyn Sexton

Judge Robyn Sexton

Judge Robyn Sexton was appointed to the Court on 27 September 2004, initially presiding in the Parramatta registry. Her Honour then established the family law division of the Court in the Sydney registry where she remained throughout her judicial career.

Judge Sexton gained a reputation for giving thorough and thoughtful consideration to the interests and welfare of children, particularly when they may be affected by the impact of family violence and when children are very young.

Her Honour initiated a successful continuing legal education program for young lawyers in the Sydney registry of the Court to assist practitioners with the practical aspects of appearing in court. Her Honour also established the first Indigenous list in the Sydney registry. Her aim was to help Indigenous children remain in their family and community wherever possible and retain their cultural ties, thereby improving outcomes for those children.

After almost 14 years on the Bench, Judge Sexton retired on 28 February 2018.

Judge John Coker

Judge John Coker

After almost 18 years on the Bench, Judge John Coker retired on 27 April 2018, to take up a position with the District Court of Queensland.

His Honour was one of the first appointees to the Court in 2000.

His Honour was educated at Mitchelton State School, and later at Brisbane Grammar School. After completing secondary school education, His Honour completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1978 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1981 from the University of Queensland. He was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1982.

From 1985 to 1999, His Honour was partly in charge of the family law section at Crosby Brosnan and Creen Lawyers. While practising as a solicitor, he also contributed greatly to the development of the legal profession, especially in North Queensland.

In 1999, His Honour was appointed as a Registrar of the FCoA in Townsville until his appointment to the Bench in 2000. In addition to many achievements as a solicitor, His Honour also received accreditation as a mediator from the Queensland Law Society.

Image of Judge Michael Baumann

Judge Michael Baumann

Judge Michael Baumann was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1979 after completing Articles at the Solicitors Board Queensland. He completed a Master of Laws from the Queensland University of Technology in 2000.

His Honour was appointed to the Court in 2000. He was one of the original 12 and was the first judge (federal magistrate) in Brisbane.

Judge Baumann is well known for his compassion and producing an outcome for families in crisis. He has driven the Court and the policies behind it and has been instrumental in helping build the Court into what it is today – the nation’s largest federal court.

His Honour was promoted to the position of Justice with the FCoA, based in Brisbane. He officially resigned from the FCC on 10 January 2018.

Court service locations

Australian Capital Territory

CANBERRA
Circuits to: Wagga Wagga

New South Wales

PARRAMATTA, NEWCASTLE, SYDNEY
Circuits to: Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Orange, Tamworth, Wauchope, Wollongong

Northern Territory

DARWIN
Circuits to: Alice Springs

Queensland

BRISBANE, CAIRNS, TOWNSVILLE
Circuits to: Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Ipswich, Lismore, Mackay, Maroochydore, Rockhampton, Southport, Toowoomba

South Australia

ADELAIDE
Circuits to: Broken Hill, Mt Gambier

Tasmania

HOBART, LAUNCESTON
Circuits to: Burnie

Western Australia

PERTH

Victoria

MELBOURNE
Circuits to: Albury, Ballarat, Bendigo, Dandenong, Geelong, Mildura, Morwell, Shepparton, Warrnambool