Judiciary of Australia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Coat of Arms of Australia.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

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. Under the doctrine of "accrued jurisdiction", the Federal Court can, however, rule on issues outside of its explicit jurisdiction, provided that they are part of a larger matter that the court does have jurisdiction over.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Justice James Allsop, 'An Introduction to the Jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Australia' (FCA) [2007] FedJSchol 15
  2. ^ Attorney-General (NSW) v Quin (1990) 170 CLR 1 at 33; 93 ALR 1 at 23; 64 ALJR 327 at 327, 340.
  3. ^ Commonwealth Constitution s 72.