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Australia’s laws are derived from the English Common Law. After the merger of all Australian States into one Commonwealth, each state government has enacted legislations  applicable to the concerned state.

Each state has a Supreme Court which is the highest court. High Court of Australia is the highest court of the country.  The High Court hears appeals from the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court of each state.

The financial jurisdiction of Supreme Court is unlimited. Interpretation of constitution is by the High Court.

Rules and procedures are made partly by legislation and partly by the courts.

All courts consider individual issues separately; common issues are heard together( representative nature or class issues). If there is one genuine common issue across the class, the courts considering this and admits the case.

Foreign Awards:

In Australia under the federal legislation or under the common law, foreign awards of certain countries and courts are enforced. Only awards of courts listed in the legislation are enforced. The limitation is six years from the date of judgment. If the judgment is outside the scope of legislation, it can be enforced under common law.  In the latter case, the judgment must be final, the foreign court passing the judgment must have jurisdiction recognized by Australian courts. The parties are to be the ones found in the judgment that need execution.

Alternative Dispute Resolution:

The Courts in Australia have gone a step ahead and insist that the parties first attempt mediation to settle the matter before approaching the court. Many states of Australia are in the verge of following this. Arbitration mode of settling disputes has become very common.

Common forms of relief  are:

Injunctions, Specific Performance, Liquidated Damages and Writs.

Cost of litigation:

The loser will be directed to pay the winner the legal costs. The courts award around 70% of the legal expenses incurred by the winner. However, lower courts in matter of cost have limited jurisdiction.

Default and Summary Judgment:

If the defendant has not submitted his defence before the court and if the petitioner asks for a default judgment after proving to the court that proper notice has been served on the defendant, then, the court can pass a default judgment. Once the defendant submits his defence by providing proper reasons for delay, the default judgment will be set aside.

In simple cases courts may give summary judgments upon request by applicant and also in a case where there is no arguable defence.

Time taken by courts:

If the matter is simple and can be adjudicated straight, it may take maximum of two months. If the matter is complicated, then, it may prolong for several years.

The author can also be reached at drgubbilegal@gmail.com

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Category Civil Law, Other Articles by - Dr Gubbi S Subba Rao