Changes to Court and Commission Names

Posted on 21 May 2013

2013 has seen further changes to the face of the court system in Australia. Name changes have taken place and some of the functions of the Commissions and Courts have changed to more effectively serve and service the needs. Listed below are two major areas of change affecting employment and family law in Australia.

1. Fair Work Australia (FWA) is now known as the Fair Work Commission. This independent body covers a number of functions, including:

  • Minimum wage and employment conditions;
  • Enterprise Bargaining;
  • Industrial action;
  • Dispute resolution; and
  • Termination of employmen.

The FWC has also been given further powers. These include:-

  • The ability to dismiss applications when settlement has already been reached;
  • Dismissal of proceedings if an applicant fails to attend a hearing;
  • Dismissal of a non-compliant application;
  • The issue of a costs order for unreasonable failure to discontinue proceedings;
  • The issue of a costs order for failure to agree to terms of settlement; and
  • The issuing of a costs order if one party has acted or omitted to act in a manner causing further costs to be incurred.

The other significant change to the laws of the Fair Work Commission involves the time limit for lodging claims.

  • Unfair Dismissal Claim – The time limit for lodging an unfair dismissal claim has increased from 14 days to 21 days
  • General Protections Claim – Previously 60 days, this has now been aligned with Unfair Dismissal claims at 21 days

2. The Federal Magistrates Court of Australia has also undergone a name change and is now known as the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The Judicial officers will be know as Judges of that Court.

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia deals with both family law and general federal law matters. The majority of all family law matters are now heard in the Federal Circuit Court whilst the Family Court is now a more specialist Court dealing with appeals or complex family law cases.

Chief Judge, John Pascoe AO CVO says the aim of the changes to the name of these courts is to more accurately reflect the modern role in the federal court system.