The Courts: Commonwealth courts

Contributed by StephenShaw and current to 27 July 2018

Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Federal Circuit Court jurisdiction includes family law and child support, administrative law, bankruptcy, consumer protection and trade practices, human rights, migration, privacy law and copyright. The Court shares those jurisdictions with the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Court of Australia.

The Federal Circuit Court homepage is at:

Federal Court

The Federal Court is the next Court in the hierarchy. It has broad jurisdiction over a wide range of federal matters, including matters Admiralty matters, Taxation, Human Rights, Native Title and Immigration

The Federal Court also deals with breaches of Commonwealth statutes such as the Australian Consumer law and the varied corporations regulation legislation.

The Federal Court homepage is at:

Family Court of Australia

The Family Court of Australia is also a federal court. However, as noted above, Western Australia has its own Family Court. The relationship between the two courts is discussed more fully in Family.

The Family Court homepage is at:

High Court

The most important court in Australia is the High Court. It is a Commonwealth court, but it is also the court to which people can appeal decisions from the Western Australian Supreme Court.

The High Court is the final court of appeal in all jurisdictions in Australia. This means that, in whatever court or tribunal a dispute commences, there is always the potential that it could finish in the High Court. Appeals to the High Court are not always a right; the High Court itself needs to give leave to appeal.

The High Court also has the responsibility of dealing with any issue that involves an interpretation of the Australian Constitution. For instance, if the Commonwealth Parliament passes a law that affects the Western Australian Government, the WA government can go to the High Court and ask that the law be declared invalid if it can argue that the law does not conform to the requirements of the Constitution. Constitutional interpretation is arguably the most important function of the High Court, as it is through cases that bring such interpretation into play that the Separation of Powers is kept in operation. The seven judges of the High Court are the heads of the judiciary, much as the Prime minister and his group of inner ministers are the heads of the Executive and the leaders of the Parliament.

The High Court homepage is at:

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