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§ 299. “Shall Have Jurisdiction.”

“Jurisdiction” is a content of the judicial power; it is in fact the power of a Court to entertain an action, suit, or other proceeding.

This section confers upon the High Court a general appellate jurisdiction in all matters decided by the State Courts of last resort, by other federal courts, by Judges of the High Court itself in the exercise of the original jurisdiction of the Court, and (on matters of law only) by the Inter-State Commission. The original jurisdiction of the High Court is limited to matters in which the subject matter of the suit, or the character of the parties, fall under certain specified heads; but the appellate jurisdiction has no such limits. It extends (subject to the excepting and regulating power of the Parliament) not only to all decisions of courts of original federal jurisdiction, but also to all decisions of the Supreme Courts of the States, irrespective of whether the subject-matter of the suit, or the character of the parties, would have brought it within the original jurisdiction of the federal courts. In other words (see § 288, supra) the High Court is not merely a federal, but also a national court of appeal; it occupies the


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provincial as well as the federal sphere, and is the apex of the judicial systems of the States, as well as of the judicial system of the Commonwealth.

The jurisdiction of the High Court as a court of appeal from the State Courts is, however, not exclusive. The Constitution grants a new right of appeal from the State Courts to the High Court; but it does not take away the existing right of appeal from the State Courts to the Privy Council, which therefore remains unimpaired (see Note, § 305, infra). Parties to cases decided by the Supreme Court of a State have therefore an alternative right of appeal either to the Privy Council direct or to the High Court.

A similar alternative right of appeal has for some time existed in New South Wales —and formerly existed in Victoria also—from a single judge, sitting in the equitable jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, either to the Supreme Court in Banco or direct to the Queen in Council. (See Equity Act, 1880 [N.S.W.], secs. 70, 79; Dean v. Dawson, 9 N.S.W. L.R. Eq. 27; 15 Vic. No. 10 [Vic.]; 19 Vic. No. 13 [Vic.], sec. 5; Garden Gully v. McLister, 1 App. Ca. 39; Davis v. Reg., 1 V.L.R. Eq.33; Woolley v. Ironstone Hill Lead Co., 1 V.L.R. Eq. 237.) Under the Supreme Court Act, 1890 (Vic.) this right of appeal from a single judge of the Supreme Court in Victoria does not now exist. (Australian Smelting Co. v. British Broken Hill Propr. Co., 23 V.L.R. 643; 20 A.L.T. 46).

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