Court Essay









“The court hierarchy ensures that justice is achieved at all levels and provides for an efficient and effective means of administering our legal system”





The quote is one hundred percent correct. The court hierarchy plays a very important role in our society as it provides efficient and effective justice at all levels of state. Court hierarchy is defined as ‘A graded system of both state and federal courts that exist in Australia in which the courts are arranged in ascending order of authority. Courts having the least authority are at the bottom of the hierarchy and courts with authority to hear the most important cases at the top.’ The lower courts are known as the Magistrates’ Court or Local Court, followed by the intermediate courts known as the County Court or District Court, with the Supreme Court at the top. The highest court to which any litigant may appeal from either a state or federal court is the High Court of Australia.


Each court in the hierarchy has its own boundaries or limits on what sort of cases it can hear. This is called jurisdiction. The type of case or dispute that you are involved in will determine which court the case will be heard in. All of the courts have original jurisdiction, that is, the ability to hear a case for the first time. Some courts have appellate jurisdiction, which is the power to hear appeals from cases that were first held in lower courts. All of the courts have both civil and criminal jurisdiction so that they can hear disputes that involve the infringement of people’s rights and cases resulting from police prosecutions for breaking the law. These jurisdictions provide a fine line, as to what powers each court has and where their powers stop, which allows for a more organized, efficient and effective legal system.


Appeals are people before a court, who call on a higher court to review the decision made in a lower court. These appeals must be granted by the higher court or by the trial judge. There are many grounds on which a party may contest a court decision, including appeals on questions of fact or points of law. This has to be granted by the higher court or by the trial judge. Appeals create fairness for both the victim and accused, where both have the ability to call on the higher court to review the decision made, if they found it unjust in any way. This makes the court hierarchy achieve justice at all levels.


Precedent is the reasoning underlying a court’s decision. The application of a precedent may be either binding or persuasive in nature. From the time the precedent is set, people involved in similar case expect that their case will have the same outcome. This works well in court hierarchy providing the mechanism for decisions made from the higher courts to be binding on the courts lower down the ladder.


Even though the court hierarchy system has been up for a long time and many people trust it and feel confident in its ability to find truth and justice, there is still some uncertainty. Some examples of advantages of this system can include the correction of wrong verdicts, allows a case to be heard by more than one judge and another jury, created the need for judges to be accountable, creates a more flexible legal system, provides “choices” for plaintiffs and defendants to either pursue or accept legal outcomes and it creates more certainty that the final verdict is the correct one and provides a sense of certainty and equal fairness of representation. Some disadvantages include the cause of legal systems to drag for too long, provides incentives for solicitors/barristers to earn more money, challenges the ‘integrity’ of the jury verdict, benefits the rich who can afford to keep cases going, punishes victims who most endure re-hearing evidence that may have caused distress and causes a lack of confidence in the legal system.


The court hierarchy is much required and can easily be seen to ensure that justice is achieved at all levels which provides for an efficient and effective means of administering our legal system. With such a just and reasonable system having such a big role in our society,