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A court's jurisdiction refers to its authority to decide the different matters which come before it. Different courts have different jurisdictions.

The Australian Capital Territory is a territory under the control of the Federal Constitution. The Federal Government has the High Court, Federal Court and Family Court to deal with certain matters over which the Federal Government has specific nationwide powers. The Australian Capital Territory also has its own Courts and Tribunals. The main areas are:

Australian Capital Territory Courts

Magistrates Courts

Magistrates are the judicial officers in Magistrates courts. They can hear civil cases involving matters such as debts and contract disputes where the amount of money involved does not exceed $50,000. Magistrates also hear criminal matters although in some cases this is merely to determine whether the person charged should be sent to a higher court for a hearing called a trial.

The Magistrates Court also hears Workers Compensation matters, and Magistrates are appointed to Tribunals such as the Mental Health or Tenancy Tribunal. 

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest Territory court. It hears civil and criminal matters and appeals from magistrates. The Court has judges and a Master who is a'judge' but with limited powers. A number of judges from the Supreme Court hear some appeals together in what is called a 'Full Court'. For example,when there is an appeal from the Master of the Supreme Court, several Supreme Court judges will hear the appeal together as a Full Court.

An appeal from a Judge of the Supreme Court is made to the Federal Court of Australia where several Federal Court judges will hear the appeal together.

Appeals from the Federal Court may be made to the High Court of Australia but only from the decisions of a Full Court and only with the 'special leave',or permission, of the High Court. 

Federal Courts

The Federal Court of Australia, which hears matters relating to federal laws such as breaches of the federal Trade Practices Act, and Workplace Relations Act.

The Family Court of Australia which deals with matters which are covered by the Family Law Act.

The High Court of Australia. This is the highest Court in Australia. It hears appeals from state Supreme Courts and from federal Courts and may hear other matters which involve, for example, important Constitutional issues. 


Within Australia there are a number of tribunals and other bodies with jurisdiction to hear certain types of cases outside the Court system. Federal tribunals include the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission. The Australian Capital Territory has an Administration Appeals Tribunal, Tenancy Tribunal, and Mental Health Tribunal. 


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