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Saturday, 15 September 2012

The same, but different

Last week the Commonwealth government announced a change of name for the Federal Magistrates Court. At a date yet to be decided, the Court will become known as the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, and FMs will now be referred to as judges.

At various times through the last few years it looked like the Court would be shut down and its members appointed as judges of the Federal Court. At other times it seemed that the government had abandoned its ideas for reform and the Court would return to business as usual. This decision is a compromise between the extremes.

For my part, I'm glad to see the name go, and along with it the confusion over where the apostrophe is supposed to be. The Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Michael Black, spoke in support of a new name as soon as it was created in 1999. And the current name is misleading; the Federal Magistrates Court could hardly be said to operate as a court of summary jurisdiction.

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