Chapters

The Commonwealth court system is much more complex than the State ones. Much more of its work is done by specialised tribunals, boards and commissions, though it does have a high volume of people using the Family Court system.

The Federal Court was established in 1976 in order to relieve the High Court of Australia of its ordinary workload. It has an Industrial Division and a General Division and sits in all State and Territory capital cities in Australia. The Federal Court in Tasmania is on Davey St. It shares premises with the Family Court.

The Industrial Division deals with the enforcement and interpretation of federal awards and agreements and workplace relations matters. The resolution of disputes, making of awards and the mediated settlement of court cases is dealt with by the Industrial Relations Commission.

The General Division of the Federal Court deals with cases relating to bankruptcy, trade practices, federal administrative law, federal taxation disputes, customs, copyright, patents, trademarks, and numerous other federal matters. Cases are dealt with by a single judge, with a right of appeal to the ‘full’ Federal Court (which has three judges), and from there to the High Court of Australia.

The rules under which the Federal Court operate allow judges to take a strong hand in case management to ensure that cases, or as many issues as possible in cases, are quickly resolved before they go to trial. There is increasing use of video connections to get ready for trials and take evidence.

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