Speak Directly To a Lawyer Now

1300 038 223
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 days
Or have our lawyers call you:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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 wants 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 should not 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.

Trudie Cameron

This article was written by Trudie Cameron

Trudie Cameron is the Practice Director of Criminal Law and is responsible for supervising and managing the New South Wales Criminal Law team in addition to her own caseload. She practices in both NSW and the ACT. Trudie is an accredited specialist in criminal law, practising exclusively in criminal and traffic law. Trudie defends clients charged with both state and...

Legal Hotline
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 Days
Call 1300 038 223