The Australian Legal System

1294 Words3 Pages

The Australian Legal System

The Australian Legal System has a rich and detailed history dating from 1066. Law is made in Parliament. We have four sources of law and three courts with different jurisdictions that interpret the law when giving out justice. Important doctrines act as the corner-stones of our legal system. There is a procedure in the courts for making appeals. Separation of powers exists between officials in the courts, the parliament and the Executive. Everyone in Australia is treated equally under the Rule of Law, no matter their office or status. The Law is always changing as society changes, but it can never be perfect and cannot please everyone.

The Westminster Legal System, upon which the Australian one is based, can be traced back to 1066 when William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings. As king, he set out rules and sent judges around the land on horseback to ensure that they were followed and offenders punished. It is from these times that the Doctrine of Precedence originated. A log of crimes and punishments was kept: as a means of convenience, judges could hand out punishments in line with the punishments given for similar cases. In the 19th Century, this doctrine became binding. In 1215, the Magna Carta was signed by King John, putting the first check against all previous monarchs’ ‘rule by Divine Right’. It was significant because the Magna Carta also gave people the right to be judged by one’s peers. In 1689, after the Glorious Revolution, Parliament became the Supreme Law-making body, monarchs no longer reigned over Parliament, but sat in Parliament.

There are four sources of Law in the Australian Legal System. They are Statute Law, which is made in Parliament, Common Law and the Law of E...

... middle of paper ...

... a very strong separation between Executive and Legislature, and the Judiciary – Members of Parliament and Government ministers cannot sit in the Judiciary and interpret the law. There is not, however, such a strict separation between the Executive and the Legislature, as the Executive sits in Parliament as well.

The Law is always changing and it reflects today’s society. However, the Law is not perfect because it is made by humans. The Law does not always coincide with Justice and Morality, for example, Carroll has lawfully been acquitted, but justice hasn’t been served, because everyone knows that he has been acquitted on a technicality. Also, abortion is legal, but many people feel that it is immoral. Because of laws in need of repealing and the inconsistencies between Law, Justice and Morality, it is not surprising that the Law can often be seen as an ‘ass’.

Open Document