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The High Court of Australia

Roles & Powers of the High Court

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The High Court is the highest judicial body in Australia or also known as the Apex Court, established under section 71 of the Commonwealth Constitution.

  • The High Court is the Constitutional Court of Australia and thus has the role to interpret the constitution and decide if laws are constitutionally valid.

  • Another one of its role is to act as an appellate court for all matters listed under secton 75 and 76 of the Commonwealth Constitution.

Powers of the High Court:

The High Court of Australia has powered ordained to it by the Constitution. These powers are outlined in the constitutional sections below.

Section 73: Appellate jurisdiction of High Court

  • “The High Court shall have jurisdiction, to hear and determine appeals from all judgments, decrees, orders, and sentences: 

  1. of any Justice or Justices exercising the original jurisdiction of the High Court; 

  2. of any other federal court, or court exercising federal jurisdiction; 

  3. or of the Supreme Court of any State, or of any other court of any State from which at the establishment of the Commonwealth an appeal lies to the Queen in Council; 

  4. of the Inter-State Commission, but as to questions of law only;”

Section 75: Original jurisdiction of High Court 

  • In all matters: 

  1. arising under any treaty; affecting consuls or other representatives of other countries; 

  2. in which the Commonwealth, or a person suing or being sued on behalf of the Commonwealth, is a party; 

  3. between States, or between residents of different States, or between a State and a resident of another State; 

  4. in which a writ of Mandamus or prohibition or an injunction is sought against an officer of the Commonwealth; 

  • the High Court shall have original jurisdiction

Section 76: Additional original jurisdiction

  • The Parliament may make laws conferring original jurisdiction on the High Court in any matter: 

  1. arising under this Constitution, or involving its interpretation; 

  2. arising under any laws made by the Parliament; 

  3. of Admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; 

  4. relating to the same subject-matter claimed under the laws of different States.