Australian Law

The most significant Australian law is the constitution. It describes the Australian constitutional monarchy. It also forms the basis of Governance.All the Australian territories and states are autonomous. They have separate governance and jurisdictions. Courts and parliamentary systems are separate. Laws enacted by Australian parliament apply in all states and territories.

Australian law is classified into four types. They include: the customary law, international law, common law and the equity.

Common law

In 1903 the high court of Australia was formed. The court has a general appellate jurisdiction above all the state and territory supreme court. It forms the basis of the Australian common law. Before 1963, the Australian high court recognised the decisions of the House of Lords as legally binding. At this point of history, the English common law was uniform with that of Australia. The power vested on the judicial committee of the privy was quashed by the Australian high court. The Australian acts of 1986 abolished appeals to the Privy Council. Currently, there is a jurisdiction to the two common law systems. However, the decisions of the House of Lords and the high court are often relied upon by the Australian courts. The law is also influenced to some extent by the common laws of countries such as the United States, Canada and New Zealand.


In the past there was a clear distinction between the common law and equity. The laws were administered in separate chambers of the supreme courts. Later, most Australian states embraced the English judicature acts system. The system allowed the common law and the equity to be heard in a single chamber. Vital developments in the law of property and contract have resulted from the recent application of the principles of equity.

Customary law

The British rejected the perception that the Australian indigenous people had their own law. The people were then subjected to English law at the time of the English colonization. Later, in 1992 the high court ruled that the customary laws could work in harmony with the common law. This resulted from the decline of the doctrine of terra nullius

International law

Australia has signed treaties with several international bodies on specific conventions. They include: the convention on the rights of the child and international covenant on civil and political rights just to mention but a few. It is important to note that the treaties do not form part of Australian law by the Virtue of being a signatory state.

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