The Federal Court System in Australia

Federal Court system in Australia: What you need to know

The Federal Court system in Australia was established by the Federal Parliament under Chapter III of the Constitution. It is comprised of 3 principal federal courts:

High Court of Australia

The High Court of Australia is the highest Court in the Australian judicial system, with its decisions being final and binding on all lower courts within Australia. Established in 1901 by Chapter III of the Australian Constitution, the High Court plays a crucial role in interpreting the Constitution. Moreover, its decisions are highly influential and set legal precedents that guide the interpretation and application of federal laws. 

The High Court’s rulings cover a wide range of legal issues, including constitutional matters, civil and criminal law, administrative law. Moreover, it has original jurisdiction in certain matters, such as disputes between States or matters involving the Federal Government. The Cour also has appellate jurisdiction, meaning it hears appeals from lower courts, including both Federal and State Courts, on matters of law.

The High Court consists of seven justices, including a Chief Justice and six other justices. They are appointed by the Governor-General of Australia on the advice of the Prime Minister. Justices are appointed until the age of 70, after which they must retire.

Federal Court

The Federal Court has jurisdiction over a wide range of matters, including but not limited to matters that:

  • Arise under federal law, e.g., constitutional law, administrative law, bankruptcy, corporations law, competition law, intellectual property law.
  • Involve disputes between the Commonwealth (Federal Government) and States or Territories, or between different States or Territories.
  • Arise under treaties to which Australia is a party.
  • Include appeals from decisions of Federal Tribunals and certain decisions of state and territory courts.

Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

an image of a husband and wife arguing in front of their daughter, which could lead to separation, which is dealt with by the federal court system

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) was established in 2021 to streamline and simplify the family law system in Australia. It was created from the merger of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia and consists of two divisions:

  • Division 1 (Family Court): Family Law
  • Division 2 (Federal Circuit Court): Family Law, migration and general federal law

Established in 1975, the Family Court of Australia had exclusive jurisdiction over family law matters at a federal level. It also dealt with more complex family law cases, including divorce, parenting disputes, property settlements, and matters involving children.

On the other hand, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia was established in 1999 as a lower-level federal court. It primarily dealt with a broad range of matters, e.g., family law, migration law, administrative law, bankruptcy, and industrial law. Its jurisdiction was also to alleviate the workload of higher courts, particularly the Family Court, by handling less complex family law matters.

The amalgamation of these two courts was intended to improve efficiency and reduce delays. Moreover, it aimed to provide a more cohesive and accessible family law system for Australians. 

     The FCFCOA has the authority to deal with a wide range of family law matters, including divorce, parenting arrangements, property settlements, child support, and spousal maintenance. It also hears appeals from decisions of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, as well as certain other federal courts and tribunals.
    a close-up image of two hands ripping a picture into two, a sign of separation, which is handled by the federal court system

    Need help with your Family Law matters?

    AussieLegal offers a range of affordable legal kits and paralegal services aimed to address a range of family law matters. This includes the preparation of Binding Financial Agreements, Binding Separation Agreements, and Binding Child Support Agreements. We also provide assistance as to the application of Divorce and Consent Orders to the relevant Courts. 

    Call us on 1300 728 200 to discuss your situation with one of our consultants.

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