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An overview of the legal system in australia

The Australian court system The Australian court system is structured as a hierarchy, which means that some courts are more powerful than others. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, different courts in the hierarchy will deal with different cases.

There are two basic types of courts; State courts, which are set up under State laws, and Federal courts, which are set up under Commonwealth laws.

There are also courts and tribunals specialised courts that deal with specific issues, such as the Children's Court, which looks after cases involving juveniles, or the Family Court, which deals with cases related to divorce. The State courts There are three levels of State courts.

The State courts deal with the bulk of disputes and offences. The structure is the same for all States in Australia, though the role of each court may differ from state to state. Each court has a slightly different set-up with regard to who hears and decides on the case and different powers with regard to the penalties they can impose.

At the lowest level is the Magistrates Court, sometimes called the Local Court. A qualified legal practitioner called a magistrate hears the case, issues a verdict decision and decides on the penalties, which may be a fine or punishment. There is no jury. For more serious offences, the magistrate will decide if the case should go to a higher court, a decision called a committal hearing. Some special Magistrates Courts include the Children's Court for offenders or defendants under 17the Minor Debts Court, the Small Claims Tribunal, the Coroners Court for unnatural deaths or arson and the Industrial Magistrates Court for disputes between employers and employees.

The Australian court system

The District Court will hear appeals from the Magistrates Court. An appeal is an application to review the decision made on a case if one or more parties are not satisfied with the outcome.

It has two divisions, the Trial Division and the Court of Appeal.

  1. The Supreme Court of Appeal deals with cases that have already progressed through the lower courts where one or more parties are not satisfied with the result.
  2. For more serious offences, the magistrate will decide if the case should go to a higher court, a decision called a committal hearing. There are also courts and tribunals specialised courts that deal with specific issues, such as the Children's Court, which looks after cases involving juveniles, or the Family Court, which deals with cases related to divorce.
  3. This includes a wide range of cases, from bankruptcy and trade practices to immigration and international relations. The State courts deal with the bulk of disputes and offences.
  4. This includes a wide range of cases, from bankruptcy and trade practices to immigration and international relations.

The Supreme Court of Appeal deals with cases that have already progressed through the lower courts where one or more parties are not satisfied with the result.

A panel of three or five judges preside over the Court of Appeal and make decisions. The Trial division uses a jury, a panel of ordinary citizens who decide on the facts of a case, to deliver a 'guilty' or 'not guilty' verdict. The results from the Federal courts set precedents that apply to all of Australia. The Family Court specifically looks after divorce and issues relating to divorce, which can be financial, such as the division of assets for example, propertyor social, like child custody.

This includes a wide range of cases, from bankruptcy and trade practices to immigration and international relations. It is the final court of appeal, which means that if disputes have progressed through lower courts without a satisfactory resolution, people can take their case to the High Court for a final decision.

The High Court also deals with constitutional and Commonwealth matters.