The Federal Court of Australia has jurisdiction to deal with most civil disputes governed by federal law, along with some criminal matters.
The Federal Crime & Related Proceedings National Practice Area (NPA) is the division of the Federal Court which deals with these criminal matters.
The Court has judges experienced in managing crime-related cases, and judicial registrars experienced in criminal prosecutions to assist the judges. The Court ensures that the judge allocated to manage the case has expertise in the underlying area of law, such as competition and consumer law.
We look at which crimes the Court has jurisdiction over as outlined on the Federal Court of Australia website.
What kinds of proceedings does the NPA deal with?
The Federal Crime and Related Proceedings NPA deals with:
- Summary prosecutions
- Criminal appeals
- Prosecutions on indictment
- Bail applications and empaneling juries for Criminal Cartel Trials
- Civil proceedings related to confiscating assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) where the Federal Court is conferred with a criminal jurisdiction
Criminal and related jurisdiction
The Federal Court generally has jurisdiction to deal with summary (less serious) criminal offences, as well as more serious indictable offences in specific circumstances.
Jurisdiction to deal with summary offences
The Federal Court has jurisdiction to deal with summary offences against a number of Commonwealth Acts, including:
- theCopyright Act 1968 (Cth)
- the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
- the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)
- the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (Cth) and
- the Australian Energy Market Act 2004 (Cth).
Summary offencs are tried before a Judge sitting alone.
Jurisdiction to deal with indictable offences
The Federal Court has indictable jurisdiction to deal with the following two offences against the Competition and Consumer Act:
- Making a contract containing a cartel provision
- Giving effect to a cartel provision
The Court was given jurisdiction for these cartel offences in 2009. An indictable offence is tried before a Judge and jury.
Proceeds of Crime Act
The Court also has jurisdiction to make orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) (“PoC Act”). Whilst Section 315 of the PoC Act provides that proceedings under that Act are civil, not criminal, s 335(7) of that Act provides that, if the Court has jurisdiction to try a person (whether on indictment or summarily) for an indictable offence, the Court has jurisdiction to make an order under the PoC Act on the basis of:
(a) a proposal that the person be charged with the offence; or
(b) the person having been charged with the offence; or
(c) the person’s conviction of the offence.
Jurisdiction to deal with criminal appeals
The Federal Court has jurisdiction to deal with criminal appeals:
- By the operation of sections 30AA and 30AD of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth)
- For offences prosecuted under Commonwealth legislation, including the Competition and Consumer Act, the Copyright Act, the Trademarks Act, the Fair Work Act, the Australian Energy Market Act, the Building and Construction (Improving Productivity) Act.
- For criminal matters from the Norfolk Island Supreme Court.
Jurisdiction to deal with applications involving criminal contempt
The Federal Court also has jurisdiction to deal with applications involving criminal contempt arising from examinations conducted by federal law enforcement agencies, such as:
- Under s34B of the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002(Cth)
- Applications under the International Transfer of Prisoners Act 1977(Cth)
What rules guide the conduct of criminal proceedings in the Federal Court?
The Federal Crime and Related Proceedings Practice Note states that the Criminal Proceedings Rules guide the conduct of criminal proceedings in the Court, addressing most of the issues which are likely to arise on a day-to-day basis in criminal proceedings, including:
- The general powers of the Court, such as the power to dispense with compliance with a rule.
- The use of affidavits.
- Summary criminal proceedings.
- Indictable primary proceedings, including how they can be commenced.
- Other aspects of indictable primary proceedings, including indictments and applications, pre-trial hearings and disclosure, juries and arraignment.
- Criminal appeal proceedings.
- Expert evidence requirements.
Other Practice Notes
The Court has a range of additional Practice Notes which should be referred to as relevant. These include:
- Central Practice Note – sets out the fundamental principles concerning the National Court Framework of the Federal Court and key principles of case management procedure.
- Technology and the Court Practice Note
- Expert Evidence Practice Note
- Subpoenas and Notices to Produce Practice Note
- Enforcement, Endorsement and Contempt Practice Note
- Content of Appeal Books and Preparation for Hearing Practice Note
- Lists of Authorities and Citations Practice Note