Last Updated 3 June 2016
The Federal Circuit Court of Australia was created by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999 (Cth) https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2016C00251. Its primary function is to act as a more informal court for the resolution of many disputes that might otherwise have been dealt with by the Family Court or the Federal Court of Australia. The Federal Circuit Court has jurisdiction that includes family law and child support, administrative law, bankruptcy, human rights, consumer protection and trade practices, privacy, migration, copyright, industrial law and admiralty law. As part of the court’s processes there is a focus on primary dispute resolution processes including counselling, mediation and arbitration.
An appeal from the Federal Circuit Court will generally go to the relevant superior court. For example, if the decision made by the Federal Circuit Court is in relation to family law matters, the appeal lies to the Family Court and in relation to general law matters, to the Federal Court.
Family law jurisdiction
The Federal Circuit Court has jurisdiction under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2016C00293 to hear and grant applications for divorce, spousal and de facto maintenance, property matters (including de facto matters for parties who separated on or after 1 March 2009), parentage and parenting matters, location and recovery orders, and some aspects of child support. The court does not have jurisdiction to determine matters relating to Hague Convention matters, adoption or applications concerning nullity or validity of marriage. The Family Court normally deals with more complex matters, such as international relocation matters, and there are provisions in relevant legislation for the transfer of matters between the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court.
The Federal Circuit Court has power to deal with most matters arising under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) including dealing with creditors’ petitions and applications for annulment of bankruptcy.
Administrative law jurisdiction
The Federal Circuit Court has some limited jurisdiction in relation to hearing appeals under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth) https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2015C00546 (subject to these being transferred to it by the Federal Court), under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth) https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2016C00343 (subject to it having jurisdiction over decisions made under any relevant Acts) and from decisions of the Social Services and Child Support Division http://www.aat.gov.au/social-services-child-support-division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on Child Support Agency reviews, but only in relation to a question of law.
The Federal Circuit Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine most matters that can be commenced under the Commonwealth Fair Work legislation.