The (Cth) Attorney-General has announced (pdf) that the Federal Magistrates Court will be merged into the Family Law and Federal Courts.
So far as IP generally goes, according to the media release:
The Federal Court will be the single court dealing with all general federal law matters:
The restructured Federal Court will have two tiers;
Appeals and other complex work will generally be heard in the first tier, with shorter, less complex matters redirected to the second tier;
Existing judges of the Federal Court will operate in the first tier;
Federal Magistrates will operate in the second tier;
Upper and lower level Fair Work Divisions, which will hear matters under the Government’s new workplace relations system, will be maintained and provide a one stop shop for employers and employees;
Federal Magistrates appointed to the Federal Court will have expertise in general federal law matters and will continue to be named ‘magistrates’.
Apparently, it is envisaged that the new arrangements will save the Government $7.8million over 4 years. Some of that will be reinvested to improve individuals’ access to the courts.
Access the Report on Future Governance of Federal Family Courts in Australia Report – November 2008 underlying the announcement here (pdf). Consultation paper on the Report here (pdf). Links to the submissions etc. here.