Telephone: (08) 8219 1000
The Federal Court hears most cases involving Commonwealth Laws.
The most common type of cases involve:
Some types of cases can be heard in either State Supreme Court or the Federal Court. There are a number of differences between the Courts that lawyers weigh up in deciding which Court to use.
General information for the public This includes information about how cases are started in the Court, the assistance that is available for this and what is involved in attending Court.
The public are encouraged to obtain legal advice before considering issuing proceedings themselves in the Federal Court. Few people attempt to run a case here without a lawyer and there is a risk that if you fail that you may have to pay tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands of dollars) of legal costs to the other party.
Commonly referred to as the AAT.
The role of the AAT is to provide independent merits review of administrative decisions. The Tribunal aims to provide a mechanism of review that is fair, just, economical, informal and quick.
The Tribunal is an independent body that reviews a wide range of administrative decisions made by Australian Government ministers, departments, agencies, authorities and other tribunals. The Tribunal can also review administrative decisions made by State government and non-government bodies in limited circumstances.
The Application Process takes you through the steps involved if you are thinking about applying to the AAT yourself.
The Court overlaps with work done in the Federal Court and the Family Court. Those Courts tend to deal with the larger and more complex cases. Cases that are "everyday" (if there is such a thing) are usually dealt with in the Federal Circuit Court as its procedures are simpler and more accessible. Just about all Family Law and Bankruptcy cases start in the Federal Circuit Court.
Telephone: 1300 352 000
For information on the Family Court go to our Family Law for the Public page.
Are you looking for detailed information like this, or contact details for any of the bodies mentioned on this page. If so, then start on our Federal Courts for Lawyers page.
If it isn't there, then start on our Finding Detailed Legal Information page.
Please read our warning on that page "Be careful using these resources".
The Law is not always as straightforward as it appears. We have not included any information about when and how to use that information or any traps. We assume that the Lawyers will know this.
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There is information about going to Court for a civil or criminal matter in The Courts Administration Authority.
Going to Court can be costly, emotionally draining and drawn out. Some Court cases take many years to conclude. There are alternatives to going to Court. Often it pays to look into these methods of dispute resolution before launching into litigation. Talk to your lawyer about alternatives including settlement conferences, mediation and arbitration.
For a very general explanation on the various types of alternative dispute resolution:
The The Legal Services Commission Handbook has a chapter on resolving disputes and a list of services available in South Australia.
The web sites for each of the Federal Courts have pages explaining their alternative dispute resolution facilities.
The Ombudsman can assist you with your complaint about the administrative actions of a government agency or authority, or local government council.
There are also bodies appointed to resolve disputes within particular Industries, Departments or particular areas of concern.
The Law Handbook (South Australia) has a chapter on this. Under the heading of Minor Civil Claims they go through the steps involved in a Court Case. With some modifications the same principles apply to any Court case and it is useful background information for you even if your case involves larger amounts of money and you will be using a lawyer.
Queensland Public Interest Law Clear House set of fact sheets is also very good at explaining different aspects of what is involved in a Court case.
Foolkit has a page on DIY Legal Kits. You may also find more focused information about your legal problem on that page.
The Courts all charge fees. Refer to the Court and Tribunal Fee Waiver Guideto see if you are eligible to have those fees reduced or waived.
A court not only decides who the Winner and Loser are, it also decides who is to pay for the legal costs that are involved. These are the Court's fees as well as the costs of the solicitors and barristers.
Sometimes who will pay costs, and how much they will pay, is negotiated between the parties. Your lawyer will explain to you what is occurring in respect to costs as the matter unfolds.
Prior to a trial there will be short hearings (that may be called directions, status or interlocutory hearings) or applications that your lawyer will attend on your behalf. If you are self-represented you will attend these hearings that guide the case towards a resolution or a trial. At the end of each short hearing there is usually an order made about who will pay the costs of that part of the case once the matter has concluded. Some common orders include:
Costs in the Cause: The ultimate loser of the case will pay the costs of the hearing.
Costs Reserved: The question of who will pay costs will be determined at a later date.
Here are some simplified explanations of legal speak when it comes to costs. NOTE: Always check your retainer (agreement) in place with your lawyer as to how they define these terms:
When the Court orders one party to pay the costs of the other party, it means its party/party costs. Party/party costs are always less than solicitor/client costs (often around 60 to 75%). Thus the 'winner' of any litigation is usually left out of pocket in respect of their legal costs to this extent.
Party/party costs are determined according to the appropriate Court Scale; i.e. if you are in the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court scale applies. Your agreement with your own solicitor may provide for paying their fees on some other basis.
Law Handbook Online is an excellent free resource and has chapters on: