Under legislation passed by Parliament in November 2012, the Federal Magistrates Court is soon to be renamed the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. These changes follow on from other reforms passed earlier this year, which will see the expansion of the Court's jurisdiction to include more intellectual property matters.

New name for the Federal Magistrates Court

The Federal Magistrates Court of Australia will be renamed the 'Federal Circuit Court of Australia, under legislation passed by the Senate on 19 November 2012. According to Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, the proposed change is designed to more accurately reflect the Federal Magistrates Court's 'modern role and its accessibility for all court users'.1 It will also reflect the 'prominence of its [the Court's] circuit work to regional areas and the federal nature of its jurisdiction'.2 Federal Magistrates will also be renamed Judges under the legislation, to better reflect their important role in the judicial system.3

Expansion of the Federal Magistrates Court's intellectual property jurisdiction

The court's name changes, expected to come into force in the first half of 2013, will supplement the Raising the Bar legislative reforms, which expand the jurisdiction of the Federal Magistrates Court as of 15 April 2013 to include more intellectual property cases, including:

  • matters arising under the Trade Marks Act, including trade mark infringement and rectification matters and appeals from decisions of the Registrar of Trade Marks.
  • matters arising under the Designs Act, including design infringement and revocation matters. This means that the Federal Circuit Court will have substantially the same jurisdiction as the Federal Court of Australia for design matters, subject to one exception in relation to hearing appeals.4

Prior to this change, the Federal Magistrates Court could only hear civil copyright matters.

The government's court reform agenda

Both pieces of legislation are part of the government's current court reform agenda, which is designed to provide greater certainty around the roles and responsibilities of the federal courts. The broader court reform agenda, which commenced in 2009, aims to improve judicial transparency, accessibility and timely resolution of disputes.