Judiciary of Australia

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The judiciary in Australia is modelled substantially on the system of courts which existed in England.

The large number of courts and tribunals in Australia have different procedural powers and characteristics, different jurisdictional limits, different remedial powers and different cost structures.

The Supreme Courts of the states and territories are superior courts of record with general and unlimited jurisdiction within their own state or territory. They can try any justiciable dispute, whether it be for money or not, and whether it be for $1 or $1 billion.

Like the Supreme Courts, the Family Court and Federal Court are superior courts of record, which means that they have certain inherent procedural and contempt powers. But unlike their Supreme Court counterparts, their subject matter jurisdiction must be granted by statute. The Federal Court can, however, hear part of a dispute over which it has no direct jurisdiction, if that aspect is "accrued" to another part of the case which does fit within its jurisdiction.

The High Court has limited trial powers, but very rarely exercises them. It has ample power to transfer cases started there to another, more appropriate court, so that the High Court can conserve its energies for its appellate functions.

Common law and equity are administered by the same courts, in a manner similar to that of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873 (United Kingdom). Legal and equitable remedies may be pursued in the one action in the one court.


Judges are appointed by the executive government, without intervention by the existing judiciary.[1] Once appointed, judges have tenure and there are restrictions on their removal from office. For example, a federal judge may not be removed from office except by the Governor-General upon an address of both Houses of Parliament for proved misbehavior.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Attorney-General (NSW) v Quin (1990) 170 CLR 1 at 33; 93 ALR 1 at 23; 64 ALJR 327 at 327, 340.
  2. ^ Commonwealth Constitution s 72.