High Court of Australia


The High Court is Australia's federal constitutional court and the highest court of appeal. It is headed by the Chief Justice of the High Court.

The High Court interprets and applies the law of Australia; it decides particularly important federal cases, including challenges to the constitutional validity of laws. It may also hear appeals, by special leave, from federal, state and territory courts, including the Supreme Court of Victoria.

When deciding whether to grant special leave to appeal, the High Court considers whether:

  • the case involves a question of law that is of public importance
  • there are differences of opinion between courts or within a court about the law
  • in the interests of the administration of justice the appeal should be heard.

While most sittings are held in Canberra, the court may sit in the capital cities of the states. Applications for special leave are heard one day each month in Melbourne or Sydney. On occasions applications can also be heard by video link with other capital cities. Check the High Court website for visiting dates.

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This video explains the role of the High Court of Australia, its history and the types of cases it hears, including cases about Australia’s constitution and appeals from state Supreme Courts.

Published: 2015

This page was last updated on January 14, 2015