Becoming the highest court

Francesca Dominello*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Through the evolution of Australia's independence from Britain, completed by the Australia Acts in 1986, the High Court has emerged as the highest appellate court in Australia, with the capacity to develop Australian law independently of English law. Despite this new identity and all the independence that it implies, the Court has been unable to liberate itself from its British legal heritage. By maintaining the unity of origin between Australian and English law, the Court believes that it is fulfilling its duty to protect the Australian legal system. In the context of native title law, this approach is premised on the understanding that any acceptance of the tenets of Aboriginal customary law as themselves forming part of Australian law will rupture the Australian legal system at its very foundation - the acquisition of British sovereignty over the Australian territories. However, it is argued in this article that it is on the very basis of this premise that the Court continues to maintain deep divisions in Australian law and to perpetuate the detrimental consequences of colonialism on Indigenous Australians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-287
Number of pages25
JournalGriffith Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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