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Commonwealth Courts

Commonwealth courts deal with matters that come under Commonwealth law. The High Court, as the ultimate court of appeal, also hears appeals from courts of the States and Territories in relation to State and Territory laws.

High Court of Australia

The High Court is the highest Australian court. Appeals may be made to it from the state Supreme Courts, the Federal Court and the Family Court. Some matters, such as constitutional matters, may go directly to it. The High Court sits permanently in Canberra, but visits the various State capitals from time to time to hear appeals.

High Court decisions are binding on all States and so its decision on a case appealed from, say, the Victorian Supreme Court to the High Court will usually be binding on all other State courts should the same question arise there.

The High Court does not automatically hear every appeal made to it. Before the High Court hears an appeal it conducts a short hearing (called an 'Application for Special Leave to Appeal') to decide whether there is a legal issue which would justify a grant of special leave.

Federal Court of Australia

Although the State Supreme Court can hear certain matters involving Commonwealth law (that is, it has some federal jurisdiction), the Federal Court mainly hears these cases. The Federal Court's jurisdiction includes matters relating to interstate industrial disputes and other actions arising under the Fair Work (Registered Organisation) Act 2008 (Cth), actions under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and bankruptcy matters.

There is a right of appeal from a Federal Court judge to the Full Federal Court (three judges) and, in some circumstances, from there to the High Court.

Family Court of Australia

This Court deals with cases under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), see Family relationships. There is a right of appeal to the Full Family Court (three judges) and in some circumstances from there to the High Court.

Federal Circuit Court of Australia

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


Federal Circuit Court

3 Angas Street ADELAIDE SA 5000

Telephone: 1300 350 000 

    Commonwealth Courts  :  Last Revised: Thu Jul 31st 2014
    The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.