Leagal System - Basic Introduction ( Australia)

Topics: Law, Dispute resolution, Court Pages: 7 (1974 words) Published: June 22, 2013
Australian Legal System


The Australian legal system developed from the legal system of United Kingdom, which was brought to Australia beginning in the 1770s . The Australian legal system is based on democratic principles and the protection of fundamental belief in the rule of law, justice and the independence of the judiciary . Principles such as procedural fairness, judicial precedent and the separation of powers are fundamental to its legal system.

The basis of the Australian jurisprudence forms from the common law system was inherited from the United Kingdom at the time of colonization. The Australian Constitution of 1901 established a federal system of government and distributed its powers between federal government and the states. It defined exclusive powers and concurrent powers, where there is any inconsistency between federal and state or territory laws that federal laws prevail and applies to the whole of Australia.

Federal and state systems incorporates three separate branches of government which are legislative (Parliament makes the laws), executive (the executive government administers the laws) and judicial (independently interprets and applies the laws). Figure 1

Figure 1 - Structure of Australian Government

The Australian Court System

The Australian court system is known as a common law system and divided into federal and State jurisdictions. Federal courts have jurisdiction over law made by the Commonwealth Government of Australia (Federal Law).

The High court interprets and applies the law of Australia, which is the highest court. Also able to hear appeals from all other courts and those appeals are given on special request to importance or significant cases (Stanford v Stanford [2012] HCA 52). Before the Australia Act (Cth) was passed in 1986 the High court was not the end of the journey of case’s. upon the unsatisfied decision made by High Court enables to appeal to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. After 1986 the High Court become the highest court of appeal on all matters and it is decided in the federal or state jurisdiction.

Under the constitution, state and territory courts invested with federal jurisdiction and other federal courts are the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia and the federal magistrates Court of Australia.

The Family Court established in 1975 as a specialist family law court and sits at the same level as the Federal Court. Through its special judges and staff, the court helps to resolve complex family disputes. Also appeals from the Family Court go directly to the High Court. The Federal Magistrates Court sits below the Federal Court, most of the decisions of the single judges and the Full Court of the Federal and Family Courts are binding on Federal Magistrates. Its jurisdiction includes family law, unlawful discrimination, bankruptcy, migration, consumer protection and trade practices, privacy and industrial law.

The jurisdictions of each court vary from State to State and each State has its own court hierarchy, where that court system operates independently. The Supreme Court sits at the top of each state court hierarchy. Also it has unlimited civil jurisdiction and handle the most serious criminal matters.

Australia have two further levels of courts, District Courts handle most criminal trials for indictable offences. District Court is also the first stop for appeals from the courts below (Bohaul Express v Kirk [2012] WADC 105). Lower Courts dealt with lesser offences and those known as local or magistrates courts. The guilt or innocence of defendants determine by local court magistrates (R.A Robinson v. D.J. Kay [2013] AMC). The Coroner’s Court is outside the normal hierarchy. The Coroner’s Court does not settle disputes between parties. It looks into unexplained deaths and other events.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

A conflict arises when...

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