Failed merger of the Family and Federal Circuit Courts

May 17, 2019

Previously we have written about the Government’s proposal to merge the Family and Federal Circuit Courts of Australia in what many practitioners consider to be a misguided and rash attempt to address the issues of unacceptable delay and mounting costs that cripple the family law system.
 
On 4 April 2019, on the Senate’s lasting sitting day before the Election on 18 May 2019, the Government’s proposed merger bill again failed to obtain the crossbench numbers required to gain passage of the legislation. Should the Government fail to win the Election, it seems likely that the Attorney-General’s campaign to merge the Courts will be a failed attempt.
 
The President of the Law Council, Arthur Moses SC, applauded the resistance of the crossbenchers, stating: "merging one court with another does not address significant underlying issues, including chronic underfunding and under-resourcing, which have led to crippling delays, pressures and costs." 
 
There is no doubt that the family law system requires reform, but such reform should be developed in a considered and meaningful way in consultation with the community and legal profession.

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