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The High Court of Australia is Australia's
apex court The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and high (or final) court of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisio ...
. It exercises
original Originality is the aspect of created or invented works as being new or novel, and thus replica, reproductions, clones, forgery, forgeries, or derivative works. An original work is one not received from others nor one copied from or based upon the ...
and
appellate jurisdiction Appellate jurisdiction is the power of an appellate court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United State ...
on matters specified within
Australia's Constitution
Australia's Constitution
. The High Court was established following passage of the ''
Judiciary Act 1903 The ''Judiciary Act 1903'' is an Act of the Australian Parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislature, legislative branch of the government of Austr ...
''. It derives its authority from Chapter III of the Australian Constitution, which vests it responsibility for the
judicial power The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authori ...
of the Commonwealth. Important legal instruments pertaining to the High Court include the ''Judiciary Act 1903'' and the ''High Court of Australia Act 1979''.. Its bench is composed of seven justices, including a
Chief Justice The chief justice is the presiding member of a supreme court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes betwee ...
, currently
Susan Kiefel Susan Mary Kiefel (; born 17 January 1954) is the Chief Justice of Australia, in office since 30 January 2017. She has served on the High Court since 2007, having previously been a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland and the Federal Court ...
. Justices of the High Court are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
and are appointed permanently until their mandatory retirement at age 70. The court has resided in
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the holding primary status in a , , , , or other , usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a that physically encompasses the government's offices an ...

Canberra
since 1980, following the construction of a purpose-built High Court Building, located in the
Parliamentary Triangle The National Triangle, which is referred to as the Parliamentary Triangle, is the ceremonial precinct of Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of ...
and overlooking
Lake Burley Griffin Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial lake A reservoir (; from French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, Rép ...

Lake Burley Griffin
. Sittings of the court previously rotated between state capitals, particularly
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Melbourne
and
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in Colonial Australia, pre-colonial times, survived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered througho ...

Sydney
, and the court continues to regular sit outside Canberra.


Role

The High Court exercises both
original Originality is the aspect of created or invented works as being new or novel, and thus replica, reproductions, clones, forgery, forgeries, or derivative works. An original work is one not received from others nor one copied from or based upon the ...
and
appellate jurisdiction Appellate jurisdiction is the power of an appellate court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United State ...
. said on his swearing in as Chief Justice of Australia:
"The High Court's jurisdiction is divided in its exercise between constitutional and federal cases which loom so largely in the public eye, and the great body of litigation between man and man, or even man and government, which has nothing to do with the Constitution, and which is the principal preoccupation of the court." Not online.
The broad jurisdiction of the High Court means that it has an important role in Australia's legal system.


Original jurisdiction

Its original jurisdiction is determined by section 75 and 76 of Australia's constitution. Section 75 confers original jurisdiction in all matters: Section 76 provides that Parliament ''may'' confer original jurisdiction in relation to matters: Constitutional matters, referred to in section 76(i), have been conferred to the High Court by section 30 of the ''
Judiciary Act 1903 The ''Judiciary Act 1903'' is an Act of the Australian Parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislature, legislative branch of the government of Austr ...
''. Whilst it may seem that the inclusion of constitutional matters in section 76 means that the High Court's original jurisdiction regarding constitutional matters could be removed; In practice, section 75(iii) (suing the Commonwealth) and section 75(iv) (conflicts between states) are broad enough that many constitutional matters would still be within jurisdiction. The original constitutional jurisdiction of the High Court is now well established: the
Australian Law Reform Commission The Australian Law Reform Commission (often abbreviated to ALRC) is an Australian independent statutory body established to conduct reviews into the law of Australia. The reviews, also called inquiries or references, are referred to the ALRC by t ...
has described the inclusion of constitutional matters in section 76 rather than section 75 as "an odd fact of history." The 1998 Constitutional Convention recommended an amendment to the constitution to prevent the possibility of the jurisdiction being removed by Parliament. Failure to proceed on this issue suggests that it was considered highly unlikely that Parliament would ever take this step. The word 'matter' in section 75 and section 76 has been understood to mean that the High Court is unable to give merely advisory opinions.


Appellate jurisdiction

The court is empowered by section 73 of the Constitution to hear appeals from the Supreme Courts of the States and Territories; as well as any court exercising federal jurisdiction.Examples of courts exercising federal jurisdiction include the
Federal Court of Australia The Federal Court of Australia is an Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmani ...
, and the
Federal Circuit Court of Australia Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy A federal monarchy, in the strict sense, is a federation of Federated state, states with a single monarch as overall head of the federation, but retaining different ...
It may also hear appeals of decisions made in an exercise of its own original jurisdiction.e.g. such as a decision made by a single justice of the High Court exercising its original jurisdiction The High Court's appellate jurisdiction is limited by the '' Judiciary Act'', which requires 'special leave' to be granted before the hearing of an appeal. Special leave may only be granted where a question of law is raised which is of public importance, involves a conflict between courts or "is in the interests of the administration of justice". Special leave hearings are typically presided over by a panel of two or three justices of the High Court. Parties are typically limited to an oral submission of 20 minutes, in addition to any written submissions.


Appeals to the Privy Council

Appeals to the United Kingdom's
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
was a notable controversy when Australia's constitution was drafted. Section 74 of the constitution as it was put to voters, stated that there would be no appeals to the privy council in any matter involving the Constitution of the Commonwealth or State Government.Excepting for situations in which the controversy involved the interests of some other dominion The section as enacted by the Imperial Parliament was different. It prohibited appeals on constitutional matters, excepting where the High Court certified it appropriate for the appeal to be determined by Privy Council. This occurred only once,In ''
Colonial Sugar Refining Co Ltd v Attorney-General (Cth) ''Colonial Sugar Refining Co Ltd v Attorney-General (Cth)'',. is the only List of High Court of Australia cases, case in which the High Court of Australia, High Court issued a certificate under section 74 of the Constitution of Australia, Const ...
''
912 Year 912 ( CMXII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in , was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on , by edict. It wa ...
HCA 94, (1912) 15 CLR 182 The High Court was equally divided prior to certification being granted
and the High Court has said it would never again grant a certificate of appeal.. On non-constitutional matters, the Privy Council regularly heard appeals against High Court decisions. In some cases the Council acknowledged that the Australian common law had developed differently from English law and thus did not apply its own principles... Other times it followed English authority, and overruled decisions of the High Court. This arrangement led to tensions between the High Court and the Privy Council. In ''Parker v R'' (1964), led a unanimous judgment rejecting the authority of the House of Lords decision in '''', writing: "I shall not depart from the law on this matter as we have long since laid it down in this Court and I think that Smith's case should not be used in Australia as authority at all".. The Privy Council overturned this by enforcing the UK precedent upon the High Court the following year.; . Thirteen High Court judges have heard cases as part of the Privy Council. Sir Isaac Isaacs is the only judge to have sat on an appeal from the High Court, in 1936 after his retirement as Governor-General. Sir Garfield Barwick insisted on an amendment to Privy Council procedure to allow dissent; however he exercised that only once. The appeals mostly related to decisions from other Commonwealth countries, although they occasionally included appeals from a State Supreme Court.


Abolition of privy council appeals

Section 74 allowed parliament to prevent appeals to the Privy Council. It did so in 1968 with the ''Privy Council (Limitation of Appeals) Act 1968'', which closed off all appeals to the Privy Council in matters involving federal legislation. In 1975, the ''Privy Council (Appeals from the High Court) Act 1975'' was passed, which closed all routes of appeal from the High Court; excepting for those in which a certificate of appeal would be granted by the High Court. In 1986, with the passing of the by both the
UK Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
and the Parliament of Australia (with the request and consent of the Australian States), appeals to the Privy Council from state Supreme Courts were closed off, leaving the High Court as the only avenue of appeal. In 2002,
Chief Justice The chief justice is the presiding member of a supreme court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes betwee ...
Murray Gleeson Anthony Murray Gleeson (born 30 August 1938) is an Australian former judge who served as the 11th Chief Justice of Australia, in office from 1998 to 2008. Gleeson was born in Wingham, New South Wales, and studied law at the University of Syd ...
said that the "combined effect" of the legislation and the announcement in ''Kirmani'' "has been that s 74 has become a dead letter, and what remains of s 74 after the legislation limiting appeals to the Privy Council will have no further effect".


Appellate jurisdiction for Nauru

Following an agreement between
Nauru Nauru ( or ; na, Naoero), officially the Republic of Nauru ( na, Repubrikin Naoero) and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, t ...

Nauru
and Australia signed on 6 September 1976, the High Court became Nauru's apex court.an amendment to Nauru's constitution was made to allow this (section 57) It was empowered to hear appeals from the
Supreme Court of Nauru The Supreme Court of Nauru is the highest court in the judicial system of the Republic of Nauru. Constitutional establishment It is established by part V of the Constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or es ...
in both criminal and civil cases; but not constitutional matters. There were a total of five appeals to the High Court under this agreement in the first 40 years of its operation. In 2017, however, this jumped to 13 appeals, most relating to asylum seekers. At the time some legal commentators argued that this appellate jurisdiction sat awkwardly with the High Court's other responsibilities, and ought be renegotiated or repealed. Anomalies included the need to apply Nauruan law and customary practice, and that special leave hearings were not required. Nauruan politicianssuch as the former Justice Minister Matthew Batsiua had expressed publicly that the Nauru government was unhappy about these arrangements. Of particular concern was a decision of the High Court in October 2017, which quashed an increase in sentence imposed upon political protestors by the Supreme Court of Nauru. The High Court had remitted to the Supreme Court 'differently constituted, for hearing according to law'. On Nauru's 50th anniversary of independence,
Baron Waqa Baron Divavesi Waqa (; born 31 December 1959) is a Nauru Nauru ( or ; na, Naoero), officially the Republic of Nauru ( na, Repubrikin Naoero) and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country and microstate in Oceania, in the Pacif ...

Baron Waqa
declared to parliament that ' verance of ties to Australia’s highest court is a logical step towards full nationhood and an expression of confidence in Nauru’s ability to determine its own destiny.' An additional reason for cutting ties articulated by Justice Minister
David Adeang David Waiau Adeang (born 24 November 1969) is a Nauru Nauru ( or ; na, Naoero), officially the Republic of Nauru ( na, Repubrikin Naoero) and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country and microstate in Oceania, in the Pacific ...
was the cost of appeals to the High Court. Nauru then exercised an option under its agreement with Australia to end its appellate arrangement with 90 days notice. The option was exercised on 12 December 2017 and the High Court's jurisdiction ended 12 March 2018. This termination did not become publicly known until after the Supreme Court had reheard the case of the protesters, and again imposed increased sentences.


History


Pre-establishment

Following
Earl Grey Earl Grey is a title in the peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1806 for General Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey, Charles Grey, 1st Baron Grey. In 1801, he was given the title Baron Grey of Howick in the County of Northumberland, and in ...
's 1846 proposal to federate the colonies, a 1849 report from the Privy Council suggested a national court be created. In 1856, the
Governor of South Australia The Governor of South Australia is the representative in the Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continen ...
, , suggested to the
Government of South Australia The Government of South Australia, also referred to as the South Australian Government, SA Government or Her Majesty’s Government is the Australian state The States and Territories of Australia are the regional governments in Australia ...
that they consider establishing a court to hear appeals from the Supreme Courts in each colony. In 1860 the
South Australian Parliament The Parliament of South Australia at Parliament House, Adelaide Parliament House, on the corner of North Terrace, Adelaide, North Terrace and King William Street, Adelaide, King William Road in the Adelaide city centre, is the seat of the Pa ...
passed legislation encouraging MacDonnell to put the idea to the other colonies. However, only
Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Commonwealth of Australia * Victoria, British Columbia, provincial capital of British Columbia, Canada * Victoria (mythology), Roman goddess of Victory * Victoria, Seychelles ...
considered the proposal. At a
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Melbourne
inter-colonial conference held in 1870, the idea of an inter-colonial court was against raised. A
Royal Commission A royal commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry A tribunal of inquiry is an official review of events or actions ordered by a government body. In many common law countries, such as the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of ...
was established in Victoria to investigate options for establishing such a court, and a draft bill was put forward. This draft bill however completely excluded appeals to the Privy Council, causing a reaction in London which prevented any serious attempts to implement the bill through the British Imperial Parliament. Another draft bill was proposed in 1880 for the establishment of an Australasian Court of Appeal. The proposed court would consist of one judge from each of the colonial Supreme Courts, who would serve one-year terms.New Zealand, which was at the time also considering joining the Australian colonies in federation, was also to be a participant in the new court. However, the proposed court allowed for appeals to the Privy Council, which was disliked by some of the colonies, and the bill was abandoned.


Constitutional conventions

The idea of a federal Supreme Court was raised during the Constitutional Conventions of the 1890s. A proposal for a Supreme Court of Australia was included in a 1891 draft. It was proposed to enable the court to hear appeals from the State Supreme courts, with appeals to the Privy Council only occurring on assent from the
British monarch The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents A precedent is a principle or rule established ...
. It was proposed that the Privy Council be prevented from hearing appeals on constitutional matters. This draft was largely the work of Sir Samuel Griffith, then the
Premier of Queensland The premier of Queensland is the head of government in the Australian state of Queensland. By convention the premier is the leader of the party with a parliamentary majority in the unicameral Legislative Assembly of Queensland. The premier is ap ...
. The Attorney-General of Tasmania
Andrew Inglis Clark Andrew Inglis Clark (24 February 1848 – 14 November 1907) was an Australian founding father and co-author of the Australian Constitution; he was also an engineer, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jur ...

Andrew Inglis Clark
also contributed to the constitution's judicial clauses. Clark's most significant contribution was to give the court its own constitutional authority, ensuring a
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
. The original formulation of Griffith,
Barton Barton may refer to: Places Australia * Barton, Australian Capital Territory, a suburb of Canberra * Division of Barton, an electoral district in New South Wales * Barton, Victoria, a locality near Moyston Canada * Barton, Newfoundland and Lab ...

Barton
and
Kingston Kingston may refer to: Places * List of places called Kingston, including the four most populated: ** Kingston, Jamaica ** City of Kingston, Victoria, Australia ** Kingston, Ontario, Canada ** Kingston upon Thames, England Animals * Kingston (ho ...

Kingston
provided only that the parliament could establish a court. The draft was later amended at various conventions.In
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually ...

Adelaide
in 1897, in
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in Colonial Australia, pre-colonial times, survived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered througho ...

Sydney
later the same year and in Melbourne in early 1898
In Adelaide the court's proposed name was changed to be the 'High Court of Australia'. Many people opposed the idea of the new court completely replacing the Privy Council. Commercial interests, particularly subsidiaries of British companies preferred to operate under the unified jurisdiction of the British courts, and petitioned the conventions to that effect. Others argued that Australian judges were of a poorer quality than those of the English, and than the inevitable divergence in law that would occur without the oversight of the Privy Council; would put the legal system at risk. Some politicians (e.g.
George Dibbs Sir George Richard Dibbs Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, KCMG (12 October 1834 – 5 August 1904) was an Australian politician who was Premier of New South Wales on three occasions. Early years Dibbs was born in Sydney ...
) supported a retention of Privy Council supervision; whereas others, including
Alfred Deakin Alfred Deakin (3 August 18567 October 1919) was an Australian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Australia. He was a leader of the movement for Federation of Australia, Federation, which occurred in 1901. During his three ter ...

Alfred Deakin
, supported the design of the court as it was. Inglis Clark took the view that the possibility of divergence was a good thing, for the law could adapt appropriately to Australian circumstances. Despite this debate, the draft's judicial sections remained largely unchanged. After the draft had been approved by the electors of the colonies, it was taken to London in 1899 for the assent of the British Imperial Parliament. The issue of Privy Council appeals remained a sticking point however; with objections made by
Secretary of State for the Colonies The secretary of state for the colonies or colonial secretary was the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, British Cabinet government minister, minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various British Empire, colonial dependencies. History ...
,
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then, after opposing home rule for Ireland, a Liberal Unionist, and eventually served as a leading new Imperialism, imp ...

Joseph Chamberlain
, the Chief Justice of South Australia, , and
Samuel Griffith Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, (21 June 1845 – 9 August 1920) was an Australian judge and politician who served as the inaugural Chief Justice of Australia, in office from 1903 to 1919. He also served a term as Chief Justice of Queensland and t ...
, among others. In October 1899, Griffith made representations to Chamberlain soliciting suggestions from British ministers for alterations to the draft, and offered alterations of his own. Indeed, such was the effect of these and other representations that Chamberlain called for delegates from the colonies to come to London to assist with the approval process, with a view to their approving any alterations that the British government might see fit to make; delegates were sent, including Deakin, Barton and
Charles Kingston Charles Cameron Kingston (22 October 1850 – 11 May 1908) was an Australian politician. From 1893 to 1899 he was a Political radicalism, radical liberalism, liberal Premier of South Australia, occupying this office with the support of Australi ...

Charles Kingston
, although they were under instructions that they would never agree to changes. After intense lobbying both in Australia and in the United Kingdom, the Imperial Parliament finally approved the draft constitution. The draft as passed included an alteration to section 74, in a compromise between the two sides. It allowed for a general right of appeal from the High Court to the Privy Council, but the Parliament of Australia could make laws restricting this avenue. In addition, appeals in ''inter se''(matters concerning the boundary between and limits of the powers of the Commonwealth and the powers of the states) matters were not as of right, but had to be certified by the High Court.


Formation of the court

The High Court was not immediately established after Australia came into being. Some members of the First Parliament, including Sir John Quick, then one of the leading legal experts in Australia, opposed legislation to set up the court. Even H. B. Higgins, who was himself later appointed to the court, objected to setting it up, on the grounds that it would be impotent while Privy Council appeals remained, and that in any event there was not enough work for a federal court to make it viable. The then Attorney-General Alfred Deakin introduced the ''Judiciary Bill'' to the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...

House of Representatives
in 1902. Prior efforts had been continually delayed by opponents in the parliament, and the success of the bill is generally attributed to Deakin's passion and persistence. Deakin proposed that the court be composed of five judges, specially selected to the court. Opponents instead proposed that the court should be made up of state Supreme Court justices, taking turns to sit on the High Court on a rotation basis, as had been mooted at the Constitutional Conventions a decade before. Deakin eventually negotiated amendments with the
opposition Opposition may refer to: Arts and media * Opposition (Altars EP), ''Opposition'' (Altars EP), 2011 EP by Christian metalcore band Altars * The Opposition (band), a London post-punk band * ''The Opposition with Jordan Klepper'', a late-night tele ...
, reducing the number of judges from five to three, and eliminating financial benefits such as pensions. At one point, Deakin threatened to resign as Attorney-General due to the difficulties he faced. In his three and a half hour
second reading A reading of a Bill Bill(s) may refer to: Common meanings * Banknote A banknote (often known as a bill (in the US and Canada), paper money, or simply a note) is a type of negotiable instrument, negotiable promissory note, made by a bank o ...
speech to the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...

House of Representatives
, Deakin said:
"The federation is constituted by distribution of powers, and it is this court which decides the orbit and boundary of every power... It is properly termed the keystone of the federal arch... The statute stands and will stand on the statute-book just as in the hour in which it was assented to. But the nation lives, grows and expands. Its circumstances change, its needs alter, and its problems present themselves with new faces. he High Courtenables the Constitution to grow and be adapted to the changeful necessities and circumstances of generation after generation that the High Court operates."
Deakin's friend, painter
Tom Roberts Thomas William Roberts (8 March 185614 September 1931) was an English-born Australian artist and a key member of the Heidelberg School , ''Golden Summer, Eaglemont'', 1889 Image:Tom Roberts - Shearing the rams - Google Art Project.jpg, 300px ...

Tom Roberts
, who viewed the speech from the public gallery, declared it Deakin's "magnum opus". The Judiciary Act 1903 was finally passed on 25 August 1903, and the first three justices, Chief Justice Sir Samuel Griffith and Justices and
Richard O'Connor General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral z ...
were appointed on 5 October of that year. On 6 October, the court held its first sitting in the Banco Court in the
Supreme Court of Victoria The Supreme Court of Victoria is the highest court in the Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent ...

Supreme Court of Victoria
.


Post-establishment


Early years

On 12 October 1906, the size of the High Court was increased to five justices, and Deakin appointed H. B. Higgins and
Isaac Isaacs Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs (6 August 1855 – 11 February 1948) was an Australian lawyer, politician, and judge who served as the List of Governors-General of Australia, ninth Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1931 to 1936. He had pr ...
to the High Court. Following a court-packing attempt by the Labor Prime Minister In February 1913, the bench was increased again to a total to seven.
Charles Powers Sir Charles Powers (3 March 1853 – 24 April 1939), Australian politician and judge, was a Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1913 to 1929. Early life Powers was born in 1853 in Brisbane, Queensland. He was educated at Ipswich Gra ...
and Albert Bathurst Piddington were appointed. These appointments generated an outcry however, and Piddington resigned on 5 April 1913 after serving only one month as High Court justice. The High Court continued its Banco location in
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Melbourne
until 1928, until a dedicated courtroom was built in
Little Bourke Street Little Bourke Street (abbreviated to Lt. Bourke St) in Melbourne's Melbourne central business district, CBD runs roughly east–west within the Hoddle Grid. It is a one-way street heading in a westward direction. The street intersects with Spe ...

Little Bourke Street
, next to the
Supreme Court of Victoria The Supreme Court of Victoria is the highest court in the Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent ...

Supreme Court of Victoria
. That space provided the court's Melbourne sitting place and housed the court's principal registry until 1980. The court also sat regularly in Sydney, sharing space in the Criminal Courts in the suburb of
Darlinghurst Darlinghurst is an inner-city, eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct American airline that ...
, before a dedicated courtroom was constructed next door in 1923. The court travelled to other cities across the country, where it would use facilities of the respective Supreme Courts. Deakin had envisaged that the court would sit in many different locations, so as to truly be a federal court. Shortly after the court's creation, Chief Justice Griffith established a schedule for sittings in state capitals:
Hobart Hobart () is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

Hobart
in February,
Brisbane Brisbane ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller low ...

Brisbane
in June,
Perth Perth () is the list of Australian capital cities, capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is Australia's list of cities in Australia by population, fourth-most populous city, with a population of 2.1 mi ...
in September, and Adelaide in October. It has been said that Griffith established this schedule because those were the times of year he found the weather most pleasant in each city. The tradition of special sittings remains to this day, although they are dependent on the court's caseload. There are annual sittings in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane for up to a week each year, and sittings in Hobart occur once every few years. Sittings outside of these special occurrences are conducted in Canberra. The court's operations were marked by various anomalies during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. The Chief Justice, Sir John Latham, served from 1940 to 1941 as Australia's first ambassador to Japan; however his activities in that role were limited by a pact Japan had entered with the Axis powers prior to his arrival in Tokyo. Owen Dixon was also absent for several years of his appointment, whilst he was serving as Australia's minister to the United States in
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
. acted as Chief Justice during Latham's absence.


Post-war period

From 1952, with the appointment of Sir Owen Dixon as Chief Justice, the court entered a period of stability. After World War II, the court's workload continued to grow, particularly from the 1960s onwards, putting pressures on the court. Sir Garfield Barwick, who was Attorney-General from 1958 to 1964, and from then until 1981 Chief Justice, proposed that more federal courts be established, as permitted under the Constitution. In 1976 the
Federal Court of Australia The Federal Court of Australia is an Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmani ...
was established, with a general federal jurisdiction, and in more recent years the
Family Court Family courts were originally created to be a Court of Equity A court of equity, equity court or chancery court is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudic ...
and Federal Magistrates Court have been set up to reduce the court's workload in specific areas. In 1968, appeals to the Privy Council in matters involving federal legislation were barred. In 1986, with the passage of the '''' direct appeals to the Privy Council from state Supreme Courts were also closed off. The life tenure of High Court Justices was ended in 1977. A national referendum in May 1977 approved the '' Constitution Alteration (Retirement of Judges) Act'' (Cth), which upon its commencement on 29 July 1977 amended section 72 of the Constitution so as require that all Justices appointed from then on must retire on attaining the age of 70 years. The ''High Court of Australia Act 1979'' (Cth), which commenced on 21 April 1980, gave the High Court power to administer its own affairs and prescribed the qualifications for, and method of appointment of, its Justices. (Cth).


Legal history

Historical periods of the High Court are commonly denoted by reference to the Chief Justice of the time. It ought be noted however, that the Chief Justice is not always the most influential figure on the Court.For example; Isaacs J was the primary force in the Knox Court, while his own tenure as Chief Justice saw Dixon J emerge as the Court's leading jurist


Griffith court: 1903–1919

The first Court under Chief Justice Griffith laid the foundations of Australia's constitutional law. The court was conscious of its position as Australia's new court of appeal, and made efforts to establish its authority at the top of Australia's court hierarchy. In '' Deakin v Webb'' (1904). It criticised the for following a Privy Council decision about the
Constitution of Canada The Constitution of Canada (french: Constitution du Canada) is the supreme law of Canada, law in Canada. It outlines Canada's system of government and the civil rights, civil and human rights of those who are citizens of Canada and non-citizens ...
instead of its own authority. In its early years Griffith and other federalists on the bench were dominant. Their decisions were occasionally at odds with nationalist judges such as Sir Isaac Isaacs and H. B. Higgins in 1906. With the death of Justice
Richard O'Connor General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral z ...
, in 1912; the nationalists achieved majority and Griffith's influence began to decline. The early constitutional law decisions of the Griffith court was influenced by
US Constitutional law United States constitutional law is the body of law governing the interpretation and implementation of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. This foundin ...
.e.g. In the case of ''
D'Emden v Pedder ''D'Emden v Pedder''. was a List of High Court of Australia cases, significant Australian court case decided in the High Court of Australia on 26 April 1904. It directly concerned the question of whether salary receipts of Government of Australia ...
'', which involved the application of Tasmanian
stamp duty Stamp duty is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated ...
to a federal official's salary, the court adopted the doctrine of implied immunity of instrumentalities which had been established in the United States Supreme Court case of '' McCulloch v. Maryland''
An important doctrine peculiar to the Griffith court was that of the Reserved State powers.The concept was developed in such cases as ''Peterswald v Bartley'' (1904), ''R v Barger'' (1908) and the Attorney-General for NSW v Brewery Employees Union of NSW, Union Label case (1908). Under this doctrine, the Commonwealth parliament's legislative powers were to be interpreted narrowly; so as to avoid intruding on areas of power traditionally exercised by the State Parliaments prior to federation.. Anthony Mason (judge), Anthony Mason has noted that this doctrine doctrine probably helped smooth the transition to a federal system of government and "by preserving a balance between the constituent elements of the Australian federation, probably conformed to community sentiment, which at that stage was by no means adjusted to the exercise of central power." Griffith and Sir Edmund Barton were frequently consulted by the States' governors-general, including on the exercise of the reserve powers.


Knox, Isaacs and Gavan Duffy courts: 1919–1935


Knox Court

Adrian Knox became Chief Justice on 18 October 1919. Justice Edmund Barton died soon after, leaving no original members. During the Knox Court, Justice Isaacs Isaacs had strong influence. Under the Knox Court the Amalgamated Society of Engineers v Adelaide Steamship Co Ltd, Engineers case was decided, ending the Reserved State powers doctrine. The decision had lasting significance for the federal balance in Australia's political arrangements. Another significant decision was ''Roche v Kronheimer'', in which the court relied upon the Section 51(vi) of the Australian Constitution, defence power to uphold federal legislation seeking to implement Australia's obligations under the Treaty of Versailles.Higgins opted to rely upon the Section 51(xxix) of the Australian Constitution, external affairs power; making this the first instance where a judge attempted to rely upon the external affairs power to implement an international treaty in Australia


Isaacs Court

Sir Isaac Isaacs was Chief Justice for only forty-two weeks; he left the court to be appointed Governor-General. He was ill for most of his term, and few significant cases were decided in this time.


Duffy Court

Frank Gavan Duffy, Sir Frank Gavan Duffy was Chief Justice for four years from 1931; but he was already 78 when appointed to the position. He was not influential, and only participated in 40% of the cases during his tenure. For the most part he gave short judgements, or joined in the judgements of his colleagues. His frequent absence resulted in many tied decisions which have no lasting value as precedent. Important cases of this time include: * ''Attorney-General (New South Wales) v Trethowan''which considered Premier of New South Wales, The NSW Premier Jack Lang (Australian politician), Jack Lang's attempt at abolishing the New South Wales Legislative Council, NSW Legislative Council * The New South Wales v Commonwealth (1932), First State Garnishee casewhich upheld federal legislation compelling the Lang government to repay its loans


Latham court: 1935–1952

John Latham was elevated to Chief Justice in 1935. His tenure is most notable for the court's interpretation of wartime legislation, and the subsequent transition back to peace. Most legislation was upheld as enabled by the Section 51(vi) of the Australian Constitution, defence power.e.g. ''Andrews v Howell'' (1941) and ''de Mestre v Chisholm'' (1944). The John Curtin, Curtin Australian Labor Party, Labor government's legislation was rarely successfully challenged, with the court recognizing a necessity that the defence power permit the federal government to govern strongly. The court allowed for the establishment of a national income tax scheme in the South Australia v Commonwealth, ''First Uniform Tax case'', and upheld legislation declaring the pacifist Jehovah's Witnesses denomination to be a subversive organisation.see: Adelaide Company of Jehovah's Witnesses v Commonwealth, ''Jehovah's Witnesses case'' Following the war, the court reigned in the scope of the defence power. It struck down several key planks of the Ben Chifley, Chifley Labor government's reconstruction program, notably an attempt to nationalization, nationalise the banks in the Bank of New South Wales v Commonwealth, Bank Nationalisation case (1948),. and an attempt to establish a comprehensive medical benefits scheme in the Attorney-General (Victoria); Ex rel Dale v Commonwealth, First Pharmaceutical Benefits case (1945).. Other notable cases of the era include: * The Australian Communist Party v Commonwealth, Communist Party caseIn which the court struck down Robert Menzies, Menzies Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal government legislation banning the Communist Party of Australia * ''Proudman v Dayman''which developed the Australian criminal law, criminal defence of honest and reasonable mistake of fact * ''R v Burgess; Ex parte Henry''presaged an expansive interpretation of the external affairs power, by upholding the implementation of an air navigation treaty


Dixon court: 1952–1964

Owen Dixon was appointed Chief Justice in 1952, after 23 years as a Justice on the court. During his tenure the court experienced what some have described as a 'Golden Age'. Dixon had strong influence on the court during this period. The court experienced a marked increase in the number of joint judgements; many of which were led by Dixon. The era has also been noted for the presence of generally good relations between the court's judges. Notable decisions of the Dixon court include: * The R v Kirby; Ex parte Boilermakers' Society of Australia, ''Boilermakers' case''In which the applicability of the
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
in protecting the judiciary from interference was firmly asserted
* Victoria v Commonwealth (1957), ''Second Uniform Tax case''In which the continued existence of the federal government's wartime income tax scheme was upheld as constitutional During Dixon's time, the court came to adopt in majority several of the views he had expressed in minority years prior.


Barwick court: 1964–1981

Garfield Barwick was appointed Chief Justice in 1964. Among other things, the Barwick court is known for controversially deciding several cases on tax avoidance and tax evasion, almost always deciding against the taxation office. Led by Barwick himself in most judgments, the court distinguished between avoidance (legitimately minimising one's tax obligations) and evasion (illegally evading obligations). The decisions effectively nullified the anti-avoidance legislation and led to the proliferation of avoidance schemes in the 1970s, a result which drew much criticism upon the court. Notable decisions of the Barwick Court include: * Bradley v. The Commonwealth, ''Bradley v Commonwealth * The Strickland v Rocla Concrete Pipes Ltd, Concrete Pipes casea case that marked the beginning of the modern interpretation of the Section 51(xx) of the Australian Constitution, corporations power; which had been interpreted narrowly since 1909. It established that the federal parliament could exercise the power to regulate at least the trading activities of corporations. Earlier interpretations had allowed only the regulation of conduct or transactions with the public * The New South Wales v Commonwealth (1975), Seas and Submerged Lands case.upholding legislation asserting sovereignty over the territorial sea * The Western Australia v Commonwealth (1975), First and Queensland v Commonwealth, Second Territory Senators' cases..Which concerned whether legislation allowing for the mainland territories to be represented in the Parliament of Australia was valid * ''Russell v Russell (Australia), Russell v Russell''concerning the validity of the ''Family Law Act 1975'' * ''Cormack v Cope''a case relating to the historic Joint Sitting, Australian parliament, 1974, 1974 joint sitting of the Parliament of Australia * Victoria v Commonwealth (September 1975), ''Victoria v Commonwealth''


Gibbs court: 1981–1987

Harry Gibbs, Sir Harry Gibbs was appointed as Chief Justice in 1981. Among the Gibbs court's notable jurisprudence is an interpretive expansion of the Commonwealth's legislative powers. Scholars have also noted a tendency away from the traditions of legalism and conservatism that characterised the Dixon and Barwick courts. Notable decisions of the court include: * ''Koowarta v Bjelke-Petersen''In which the court held 4:3 that the ''Racial Discrimination Act 1975'' was validly supported by Section 51(xxix) of the Constitution of Australia, s51(xxix) * The Commonwealth v Tasmania, Tasmanian Dams caseIn which the court held that federal environmental legislation interfering with a Tasmanian dam construction was validly supported by Section 51(xxix) of the Constitution of Australia, s51(xxix) * ''Kioa v West''In which the court expanded on the doctrines of natural justice and Due process, procedural fairness * The Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton#Post-conviction, Chamberlain case * ''A v Hayden''concerning the botched Australian Secret Intelligence Service, ASIS Australian Secret Intelligence Service#The Sheraton Hotel incident, exercise at the Sheraton Hotel in Melbourne


Mason court: 1987–1995

Anthony Mason (judge), Sir Anthony Mason became Chief Justice in 1987. The Mason court is known for being one of the most legally liberal benches of the court. It was a notably stable court, with the only change in its bench being the appointment of Michael McHugh (judge), McHugh following Ronald Wilson, Wilson's retirement. Some of the decisions of the court in this time were politically controversial.Especially Mabo v Queensland (No 2), ''Mabo'' Scholars have noted that the Mason court has tended to receive 'high praise and stringent criticism in equal measure'. Notable decisions of the court include: * ''Cole v Whitfield''Known for resolving an interpretive controversy regarding s92 of the Constitution; a section pertaining to free trade. Prior to ''Cole v Whitfield'', the High Court was plagued with litigation on this section. *''Dietrich v The Queen, Dietrich v R''In which the court established a de-facto constitutional requirement that legal aid be provided to defendants in serious criminal trials *''Mabo v Queensland (No 2)''In which it was found that Native title in Australia, native title was recognized by Australia's common law *''Polyukhovich v Commonwealth''regarding the validity of the ''War Crimes Act 1945'' *''Sykes v Cleary''regarding the disputed election of Phil Cleary *''Waltons Stores (Interstate Ltd) v Maher, Waltons Stores v Maher'' This era is also notable for originating Australia's implied freedom of political communication jurisprudence; through the cases ''Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth, ACT v Cth'' and Theophanous v Herald & Weekly Times Ltd, ''Theophanous''.


Brennan court: 1995–1998

Gerard Brennan succeeded Mason in 1995. The court experienced many changes in members and significant cases in this three year period. Notable decisions of the court include: * ''Ha v New South Wales''In which the court invalidated a New South Wales tobacco licensing scheme, reining in the licensing scheme exception to the prohibition on states levying excise duties, contained in Section 90 of the Constitution of Australia, Section 90 of the Constitution * ''Grollo v Palmer''Known for the persona designata doctrine * Kable v Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW), ''Kable v DPP''Known for establishing the 'Kable Doctrine' * ''Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lange v ABC''An important case within Australia's implied freedom of political communication jurisprudence * The Wik Peoples v Queensland, Wik caseon whether statutory leases extinguish Native title in Australia, native title rights


Gleeson court: 1998–2008

Murray Gleeson Anthony Murray Gleeson (born 30 August 1938) is an Australian former judge who served as the 11th Chief Justice of Australia, in office from 1998 to 2008. Gleeson was born in Wingham, New South Wales, and studied law at the University of Syd ...
was appointed Chief Justice in 1998. The Gleeson Court has been regarded as a relatively conservative period of the court's history. Notable decisions of the court include: * ''Al-Kateb v Godwin'' *''Egan v Willis'' *New South Wales v Commonwealth (2006), ''New South Wales v Commonwealth'' (aka. 'Workchoices') *''R v Tang'' *''Re Wakim; Ex parte McNally''In which the court struck down legislation vesting state jurisdiction in the Federal Court * ''Sue v Hill'' *''Western Australia v Ward'' *The Members of the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v Victoria, ''Yorta Yorta case''


French court: September 2008 – January 2017

Robert French was appointed Chief Justice in September 2008. Notable decisions of the French court include: * ''Pape v Commissioner of Taxation''. * ''Plaintiff M70/2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Plaintiff M70'' * ''Williams v Commonwealth''


Kiefel court: January 2017 – Present

Susan Kiefel Susan Mary Kiefel (; born 17 January 1954) is the Chief Justice of Australia, in office since 30 January 2017. She has served on the High Court since 2007, having previously been a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland and the Federal Court ...
was appointed Chief Justice in January 2017. Legal scholars have noted a shift in judicial style within the Kiefel court to one that attempts broad consensus. The frequency of dissenting judgements has decreased; and there have been relatively fewer decisions of a 4–3 split. Extrajudicially, Kiefel has expressed sympathy for judicial practices that maximise consensus and minimize dissent. Additionally, it has been noted that Kiefel, Keane, and Bell frequently deliver a joint judgement when a unanimous consensus is not reached; often resulting in their decisions being determinative of the majority. This recent practice of the court has been criticized by the scholar Jeremy Gans, with comparisons drawn to the 'Four Horsemen (Supreme Court), Four Horsemen' era of the US Supreme Court. Notable decisions of the Kiefel court include: * ''Re Canavan''See: 2017–18 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis''. '' * ''Wilkie v Commonwealth''In which the Court held that expenditure for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey had been approved by Parliament and was the collection of "statistical information" that could be conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.. * George Pell#Acquittal, ''Pell v The Queen''' * ''Love v Commonwealth''In which the court decided that Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders could not be considered "alien" to Australia, and so the Commonwealth Government's power to deport "aliens" under Section 51 of the Australian Constitution, did not apply to them


Appointment process, composition, and working conditions


Appointment process

High Court Justices are appointed on the Advice (constitutional law), advice of the Prime Minister by the Governor-General of Australia, Governor-General in Council. The Prime Minister is typically assisted in this process by the Attorney-General for Australia. Since 1979, it has been a requirement that State Governments have a consultative role in the appointment process. Some reformers have advocated for States having a determinative role. The only constitutional requirement for a High Court justice is that they be under the compulsory retirement age of 70. However, the High Court of Australia Act requires that an appointee be a Judge of a federal, state or territory court; or have been an Australian legal practitioner for at least five years. The appointment process for Australian apex Justices is relatively uncontroversial and apolitical.Especially in comparison to the appointment process of the United States. See: Nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States#Confirmation, US Supreme Court confirmation hearings Nevertheless, some appointments to the High Court display clear political influence. Three Justices had previously been conservative politicians prior to their promotion to Chief Justice;Knox, Latham, and Barwick and Justices H. V. Evatt, Evatt, Edward McTiernan, McTiernan, and Lionel Murphy, Murphy were all Labor Party (Australia), Labor party politicians at some stage in their careers prior to being elevated to the bench by a Labor prime minister.


Composition

The High Court has seven Judges, the Chief Justice and six others. the High Court has had 43 Justices, twelve of whom have been Chief Justice.


Initial composition

The first High Court bench consisted of three justices; Samuel Griffith, Edmund Barton, and Richard O'Connor. According to the contemporary press, among those considered and overlooked were H.B. Higgins, Henry Higgins,
Isaac Isaacs Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs (6 August 1855 – 11 February 1948) was an Australian lawyer, politician, and judge who served as the List of Governors-General of Australia, ninth Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1931 to 1936. He had pr ...
, Andrew Inglis Clark, Andrew Clark, John Downer, Josiah Symon, and George Wise (Australian politician), George Wise. Barton and O'Connor were both members of the federal parliament's government bench. Each appointee had participated in the drafting of Australia's constitution. All three have been described as relatively conservative justice for the time; and were strongly influenced in by United States law in their constitutional jurisprudence.


Expansion of the court

In 1906 at the request of the Justices, two seats were added to the bench; with Isaacs and Higgins being appointed. After O'Connor's death in 1912, an amendment was made to the '' Judiciary Act'' expanding the bench to seven. However, these seats were left vacant for most of 1930. Following Isaacs retirement in 1931, his seat was left empty and an amendment to the '' Judiciary Act'' reduced the number of seats to six. This however led to some decisions being split three-all. With the appointment of Justice William Webb (judge), Webb in 1946, the court returned to seven seats; and since then the court has had a full bench of seven Justices.


Historical demographics

The vast majority of the High Court's forty-three appointees have been men. Five women have been appointed in the court's history. The first female appointee to the bench was Mary Gaudron, and second Susan Crennan. Three Justices on the current bench are female; Justices Susan Kiefel, Kiefel, Michelle Gordon (judge), Gordon, and Jacqueline Gleeson, Gleeson. In 2017, Justice Kiefel became the List of the first women appointed to Australian judicial positions, first woman to be appointed Chief Justice. Michael Kirby (judge), Michael Kirby was the first openly gay justice of the Court. He was replaced by Virginia Bell, who is the first person on the bench to identify as a lesbian. Twenty-six appointees have been residents of New South Wales, twenty-four of which graduated from Sydney Law School. Thirteen have come from Victoria, eight from Queensland, and four from Western Australia. No resident of South Australia, Tasmania, or any of the Territories has ever been appointed to the bench. The majority of Justices have been of Protestant backgrounds, with a smaller number of a Catholic background. Two Jewish members have been appointed, Sir
Isaac Isaacs Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs (6 August 1855 – 11 February 1948) was an Australian lawyer, politician, and judge who served as the List of Governors-General of Australia, ninth Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1931 to 1936. He had pr ...
and James Edelman, making them the only members of the court to have a faith background other than Christianity. However, many justices have refrained from commenting publicly upon their religious views. Almost all judges on the High Court have "taken silk" in some form prior to their appointment, in the form of appointment to Queen's Counsel, Queen's Counsel (QC), King's Counsel (KC) or Senior Counsel, Senior Counsel (SC). The exceptions are Hayden Starke, Starke, Edward McTiernan, McTiernan, Webb, Cyril Walsh, Walsh, Kirby, Robert French, French, and James Edelman, Edelman. Whilst thirteen historical justices of the court have previously served in a Parliament; no parliamentarian has been appointed to the Court since Lionel Murphy in 1975.


Working conditions

Salaries are determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. The regular justices receive $530,440, while the Chief justice receives $584,520. High Court judicial compensation is constitutionally protected from decrease during appointment. The court typically sits for two weeks for each calendar month of the year, excepting for January and July in which no sitting days are held.


Judicial associates

Each judge engages associates for assistance in exercising their functions. The usual practice is to engage two associates simultaneously for a one-year term. Additionally, the Chief Justice is assisted by a legal research officer employed by the court library. Associates have varying responsibilities; typically their work involves legal research, assistance in preparation for oral arguments, Tipstaff, tipping in court during oral argument, editing judgments and assisting with extrajudicial functions, such as speechwriting. Associates are typically recruited after having graduated from an Australian law school with grades at or near the top of their class. Hundreds of applications for associate positions are received by the High Court annually. Many High Court associates have gone on to illustrious careers. Examples of former associates include Adrienne Stone and Nicola Roxon. Three High Court justices served as associates prior to their elevation to the bench: Keith Aickin, Aickin to Sir Owen Dixon, Dixon, Stephen Gageler, Gageler to Sir Anthony Mason, Mason, and James Edelman, Edelman to John Toohey (judge), Toohey.


Facilities


Building

The High Court of Australia building is located on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra's
Parliamentary Triangle The National Triangle, which is referred to as the Parliamentary Triangle, is the ceremonial precinct of Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of ...
. The High Court was designed between 1972 and 1974 by the Australian architect Christopher Kringas (1936–1975), a director of the firm Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Briggs. The building was constructed from 1975 to 1980. Its international architectural significance is recognised by the Union of International Architects register of 'Architectural Heritage of the 20th Century'. It received the Australian Institute of Architects 'Canberra Medallion' in 1980 and the award for 'Enduring Architecture' in 2007. The High Court was added to the Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004.


Online

The High Court makes itself generally available to the public through its own website. Judgment Alerts, available on the Court's website and by email with free subscription, provide subscribers with notice of upcoming judgments (normally a week beforehand) and, almost immediately after the delivery of a major judgment, with a brief summary of it (normally not more than one page). All of the Court's judgments, as well as transcripts of its hearings since 2009 and other materials, are made available, free of charge, through the Australasian Legal Information Institute. The Court has recently established on its website an "eresources" page, containing for each case its name, keywords, mentions of relevant legislation and a link to the full judgment; these links go to the original text from 2000 onward, scanned texts from 1948 to 1999 and facsimiles from the ''Commonwealth Law Reports'' for their first 100 volumes (1903 to 1959); there are also facsimiles of some unreported judgments (1906–2002). Since October 2013, audio-visual recordings of full-court hearings held in Canberra have been available on its website.


Gallery

Court 1 at the High Court of Australia.jpg, The No. 1 Courtroom, used for all cases that require a full bench of seven justices High Court Australia-01JAC.jpg, High Court building High Court of Australia (3464508241).jpg, Entry hall


See also

* Judiciary of Australia#Australian court hierarchy, Australian court hierarchy *
Judiciary Act 1903 The ''Judiciary Act 1903'' is an Act of the Australian Parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislature, legislative branch of the government of Austr ...
* Judiciary of Australia * Law of Australia * List of chief justices of Australia by time in office * List of High Court of Australia cases * List of justices of the High Court of Australia * List of law schools attended by Australian High Court justices


Notes


References


Attribution

;Building only


Bibliography

;Building only * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * *


External links


High Court of Australia official website

High Court Documentary
a short documentary on the High Court and its building.
''The Highest Court''
Documentary film, 1998, DVD. Only film ever permitted to be made of the High Court in session, before video recordings of its proceedings.
Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth)
in ComLaw
High Court of Australia Act 1979 (Cth)
in ComLaw {{Authority control High Court of Australia, 1903 establishments in Australia 1975 Australian constitutional crisis Australian appellate courts Australian constitutional law Australian National Heritage List Brutalist architecture in Australia Buildings and structures completed in 1980 Commonwealth Heritage List places in the Australian Capital Territory Courthouses in Canberra Nauruan law Courts and tribunals established in 1903