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Authority to Decide

Authority to Decide

The Law of Jurisdiction in Australia

By Mark Leeming


Authority to Decide was cited in CGU Insurance Limited v Blakeley [2016] HCA 2 at [25] footnotes 14 and 16, in Sinkovich v Attorney General of New South Wales (2013) 85 NSWLR 783; [2013] NSWCA 383 at [42], in Morris Finance Ltd v Brown (2016) 93 NSWLR 551; [2016] NSWCA 343 at [34], in Bare v IBAC [2015] VSCA 197 at [389] and other decisions at first instance and on appeal.

The first work dealing comprehensively with jurisdiction in the Australian legal system.

  • What are the limits of federal jurisdiction?
  • How is federal jurisdiction conferred and invested on Federal and State courts within the Australian legal system?
  • What is “accrued jurisdiction”?
  • What is a “matter”?
  • What is jurisdictional error?
  • What is a jurisdictional fact?
  • Why are there no Australian courts of unlimited jurisdiction?
  • What does it mean to say that a court has jurisdiction to decide its own jurisdiction?
  • How is a court's jurisdiction invoked?

These questions are of vital practical and conceptual importance; the purpose of this work is to answer them, by providing a comprehensive account of the role of jurisdiction in Australia.

Although the book extends to all aspects of jurisdiction, it covers the whole of federal jurisdiction, and provides not only an accessible analysis for practitioners and courts, but also a thoughtful and detailed account of the underlying principle and decisions. All classes of federal “matters” are addressed, but with an emphasis on those arising most commonly in practice, as well as the essential statutory provisions by which State and federal jurisdiction is conferred and qualified and excluded. Separate chapters deal with invoking jurisdiction, jurisdictional error, service, and appeals and appellate jurisdiction, in State and federal courts.


Invoking the jurisdiction of courts
Jurisdictional error
Identifying Chapter III matters
Conferring and excluding jurisdiction
Chapter III matters – Private jurisdiction
Chapter III matters – Litigation involving governments
Appendix – Constitution and Judiciary Act (extracts)



We have been remiss in not reviewing this little book earlier. Its subject matter is technical. The author in his preface rightly says that the book is written for the working lawyer. … it is certainly a great source of material to consult whenever one has a problem in this area. The book deals with a problem that has been more and more significant particularly in administrative law over the past decade.
          This is a very learned tome and will be of great assistance to lawyers who need to venture into this technical area. Unfortunately in one sense, that may include all of us, as the problems of jurisdiction can affect even the apparently simplest piece of litigation. Read full review...

Peter W Young, Australian Law Journal, March 2015

This very useful work by the extremely talented Mark Leeming S.C considers many aspects of the concept of “jurisdiction” in the Australian legal setting. Its focus is on Federal jurisdiction and it contains lucid explanations of the concept of “matters” in the various senses in which that concept is used. Read full review...

Queensland Law Reporter, 8 February 2013


Published 30 November 2012
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862879027
Australian RRP $165.00
International Price $150.00
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Law - Constitutional
Law - Civil Litigation

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