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Thursday, 18 June 1903

Mr HIGGINS (NORTHERN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Then the object of this clause is to define the limitations of the power of appeal - whether in Federal matters or not - from the decision of the Supreme Court of a State. May I therefore ask the Attorney-General if he has considered whether this provision confers upon the 'High Court - as it ought - a clear right to hear appeals from the Full Court of a State ? It declares -

The appellate jurisdiction of the High Court with respect to judgments of the Supreme Court of a State, or of any other court of a State, from which, at the establishment of the Commonwealth, an appeal lay to the Queen in Council, shall extend, &c.

It was certainly the intention .of the framers of the Constitution to give the High Court the right to hear ordinary appeals from the Full Court. In our ordinary practice a Judge of the Supreme Court first decides any case which comes before him. Then if a litigant is dissatisfied he appeals to the Full Court. If defeated there, he can, at present, appeal to the Privy Council. The intention of the framers of the Constitution was to give the High Court the right to deal with those cases which would otherwise have gone to the Privy Council. I apprehend that the Attorney-General has no idea of robbing the Full Court of its right to deal with appeals in the first instance ; and I merely wish him to consider whether .under this clause he has secured to the High Court a right to deal with appeals from the Full Courts. The Supreme Court of a State has been taken to mean only one Judge.

Mr Deakin - It may mean one or more.

Mr HIGGINS - In framing section 73 of the Constitution the Judiciary Committee intended to cover, by the general words which are there used, an appeal not merely from a Judge in the first instance, but from the Full Court. I agree that technically the Supreme Court is the Full Court.

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