This article was written by Trudie Cameron - Practice Director – Sydney

Trudie is an accredited specialist in criminal law and practises exclusively in criminal and traffic law. Trudie defends clients charged with both state and commonwealth offences and appears on their behalf in Local and District Courts. Trudie has also instructed counsel in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal and the High Court....

High Court of Australia


The High Court of Australia is the highest court in the Australian legal system. Established in 1901, it decides appeals of special federal importance relating to all areas of law – not just criminal law. It hears appeals from other courts, and certain matters which begin in the High Court.

The High Court determines challenges to the constitutional validity of laws and hears appeals against decisions of the highest courts of each of the states (for example, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal or Court of Appeal). The High Court also has the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and the parliaments of the states and territories

The High Court of Australia is located in the Parliamentary zone on Lake Burley Griffin in the Australian Capital Territory. The High Court also convenes periodically in all the Australian capital cities to hear special leave applications and, in some instances, hearings of appeals that have been granted special leave.

High Court Of Australia Appeals

An appeal can only be heard by the High Court of Australia where ‘special leave’ has been granted. A person who wishes to appeal to the High Court makes an application for ‘special leave’ to appeal. Normally, the parties involved are represented by Senior Counsel and Junior Counsel who specialise in appellate work, instructed by solicitors. The application for special leave is submitted in writing with supporting documents and evidence. It is heard by three judges of the High Court and subject to strict time limits. Most applications for special leave are refused. The High Court can only hear an appeal if special leave is granted.

Where a matter is heard by the High Court of Australia, it will be heard by either five or seven Judges of the High Court. A matter before all seven High Court Judges is an appeal before the Full Court of the High Court. A matter may be heard before the Full Court if it involves interpreting the Constitution, considering whether a previous High Court decision remains good law or should be departed from, or where the court considers the law involved is one of major public importance.

Prior to the High Court of Australia hearing a matter, written submissions and appeal books must be filed. There are strict rules for the formatting, content, referencing and filing of such documents. If the documents are not perfect, they will often be rejected by the court.

The High Court hears appeals relating to all different areas of law including criminal matters, immigration matters, contractual matters, commercial disputes and constitutional matters. Appeals can relate to the way in which legislation is interpreted and applied, the rules of evidence and whether certain evidence should, or shouldn’t have been, admitted into evidence in a case. They can also relate to divergence or discrepancies in the way in which different states apply legal principles.

Armstrong Legal has instructed prominent Senior Counsel and successfully sought and been granted special leave to appeal to the High Court. We have also appeared at hearings of appeals to the High Court of Australia.

If you require information on the High Court of Australia or any other legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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