Judicial System of Australia

Supreme court: High Court of Australia

Ministry: Attorney-General’s Department


The High Court of Australia deals with cases involving international law and domestic constitutional issues, and, at its discretion, with appeals arising from the lower courts, where they are considered to be of sufficient public interest, or where there are differences in the interpretation of the law among the lower courts. It is presided over by a chief justice and six justices. Most sittings are scheduled in Canberra, though every month there is a sitting in Melbourne or Sydney, and generally every year in Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and Perth.

Other federal courts include the Federal Court and the Family Court – each presided over by a chief justice – and the Federal Magistrates Court. The Federal Court’s jurisdiction encompasses almost all civil matters arising under Australian federal law and some summary criminal cases. The Family Court is the country’s superior court in family law.
The Federal Magistrates Court was established in 1999.

Each of the states and territories has a supreme court presided over by a chief justice. The state and territory courts deal with most criminal cases and all matters under state or territory law. Judges are appointed by the government which does not have the power to sack them.