Media Release
12 April 2013


As of Friday 12 April 2013, the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia will be known as the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and its judicial officers, Judges of that Court.

Since it was established in 2000 the Court has experienced significant growth in workload, judicial numbers and jurisdiction.  It is now the nation’s largest federal court dealing with both family law and general federal law matters.

Over the past 12 years there has been a progressive shift in the balance of workload between the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia, with the majority of all family law matters now heard in the Federal Circuit Court. This has resulted in the Family Court becoming a smaller/specialist court that deals with appeals and the most lengthy and complex family law cases.

The Court’s general federal law jurisdiction includes administrative law, admiralty law, bankruptcy, consumer law, human rights, industrial, intellectual property, migration and privacy.

Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, 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’ highlights the importance of the Court’s work in regional locations.

“The Court is committed to providing justice to all Australians regardless of geographic location and it has a well established circuit program which services over 33 regional locations in addition to our city-based registries.

“The benefit of such a program is that parties who live in regional locations can have their matter heard at a location closer to them, thus reducing costs for litigants both in time and money by not having to travel to a major city. This is particularly important at a time of stress.

Over the years the Court has established excellent working relationships with local practitioners and other family law services such as family relationship centres, legal community centres and family pathways networks.  We look forward to continuing to build on those relationships and providing a critical service to regional Australians.”

Facts and figures:

  • The Federal Circuit Court deals with more than 85 per cent of all family law matters nationally (except for WA) and most divorces are filed in the Federal Circuit Court
  • 92,542 applications were filed in the Court in 2011-2012, a significant increase compared to its first year of operation (in 2000-01) when 36,435 applications were filed
  • The Court started with ten judicial officers, there are now 63 (which includes two new appointments commencing in April)
  • In 2011–12, 83 per cent of all applications (family law and general federal law) were completed within six months and 95 per cent were completed within 12 months
  • 2,277 written judgments were produced in 2011-12 and thousands more decisions were handed down ex-tempore
  • In 2011-12, the Court circuited to 33 rural and regional locations, and spent the equivalent of approximately 145 weeks (in Judicial hours) hearing matters in regional areas. For a list of locations that the Court circuits to see:
  • The Court hears approximately 95 per cent of all migration applications that are filed in the federal courts
  • The new domain name for the Court is:

For more information see:

Media contact:

Denise Healy - P 03 8600 4357 M 0409743605 E 
Media and Public Affairs Manager, Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia