Our court system, like most other official systems, is hierarchical in structure. The High Court, which is the final court of appeal in Australia, is at the top of the structure. The Victorian Magistrates’ Court, which is the court most people are likely to come into contact with, is at the bottom. In between are the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria. Then there are the Family Court and the Federal Court, which are both Commonwealth courts.
The Federal Circuit Court (FCC) is the Commonwealth equivalent to the Victorian Magistrates’ Court. For the overall structure of state and Commonwealth courts, see the diagram following (note that this diagram sets out the general hierarchy of courts and some tribunals; it is not meant to set out rights of appeal between those courts and tribunals).
Tribunals are less formal forums for resolving disputes in specialised areas. They have also become an important part of the Australian justice system and are discussed later in the chapter.