previous
next

§ 305. “Of the Supreme Court of any State.”

These are the words which make the High Court not merely a federal court of appeal, but a national court of appeal of general and unlimited jurisdiction. Appeals from any Justice or Justices of the High Court itself in its original jurisdiction, and from other federal courts or courts of federal jurisdiction, can, of necessity, only arise in the specific cases where original jurisdiction is granted by the Constitution, or may be conferred by the Parliament; but appeals from the Supreme Courts of the States extend to all cases, without regard to the subject matter or the character of the parties.

The excepting and regulating power of Parliament extends to appeals from the Supreme Courts of the States, but subject to a special limitation (see Note, § 300, supra) which gives the High Court a constitutional right to entertain appeals in all cases where there is now an appeal as of right to the Queen in Council. Thus the position of the High Court, not only as the “guardian of the Constitution,” but as a general court of appeal for Australia, is constitutionally secured.

This section confers a new right of appeal, and a new jurisdiction, but it does not take away the existing right of appeal from the Supreme Courts of the States direct to the Privy Council. The latter right therefore remains in force; and accordingly the High Court, though a general court of appeal for Australia, is not the sole court of appeal. (See Note, § 299, supra.)

The words “judgments” &c. “of the Supreme Court of any State” are not necessarily restricted to judgments of the “Full Court,” or Court sitting Banco; they may apply to orders of the Court made by a single Judge. There may thus be in some cases an alternative right of appeal from the decision of a Judge in a Court of first instance either to the “Full Court” of the State or direct to the High Court. A similar alternative appeal existed, before the establishment of the Constitution, from a Judge of the Supreme Court of N.S.W. or Victoria, sitting in Equity, either to the “Full Court” or to the Privy Council. (See Note, § 299, supra.)

previous
next