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Hot Topics: Courts and Tribunals

This issue provides an overview of Australia's court system, federal and state, and how it fits within the legal system. It covers the areas dealt with by different courts and tribunals, judges, juries and judicial accountability. It also examines diversionary options and alternative dispute resolution measures such as MERIT, mediation, youth justice conferencing and circle sentencing.

Author note

This issue is based on previous issues of Hot Topics Courts: 38 and 71. Updates to the text have been provided by NSW Courts and Tribunal Services and the Legal Information Access Centre.

This issue was updated in September 2021 to reflect the commencement of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

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Chapter one

Introduction to courts

Federal structure - role of courts - legislation - common law - legal principles.

Chapter two

Types of disputes

Criminal cases - civil cases - standard of proof.

Chapter three

Jurisdiction and hierarchy of courts

Jurisdiction - Commonwealth and state hierarchy of courts.

Chapter four

Precedent and evidence

Precedent - binding precedent - persuasive precedent - evidence.

Chapter five

Children and courts

Child witnesses.


Hot Topics: Courts. Hot Topics is intended as an introductory guide only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information, the Legal Information Access Centre does not assume responsibility for any errors or omissions.

© Library Council of New South Wales 2017. Copyright in Hot Topics is owned by the Library Council of New South Wales. Material contained herein may be copied for the non-commercial purpose of study or research, subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).