Find out about an Area of Law

National Practice Areas (NPAs)

What are NPAs?

As part of the National Court Framework (NCF) reforms, the work of the Court has now been reorganised by reference to subject matter areas, known as the National Practice Areas (NPAs) and Sub-areas. The nine NPAs and sub-areas which are:

A dedicated group of judges have been allocated to each NPA to hear matters in that NPA.

See also, descriptions of each NPA.


Bankruptcy matters

What is a Bankruptcy matter?

Bankruptcy matters fall within the Commercial and Corporations NPA under the General and Personal Insolvency Sub-area.

Most bankruptcy matters filed in the Court are heard by one of the Court's Registrars.

More information about bankruptcy matters including a guide to assist you in starting a bankruptcy matter is available on the Court's website.

Information relating to judge-related bankruptcy matters is available on the General and Personal Insolvency Sub-area webpage.


Winding-up application

What is a winding-up application?

Winding-up matters fall within the Commercial and Corporations NPA under the Corporations and Corporate Insolvency Sub-area.

Most winding-up applications matters filed in the Court are heard by one of the Court's Registrars.

More information about winding-up matters including a guide to assist you in starting a winding-up matter is available on the Court's website.

Information relating to judge-related corporate insolvency matters is available on the Corporations and Corporate Insolvency Sub-area webpage.


Human Rights matters

Unlawful discrimination – when can you complain to the Federal Court?

Human Rights matters fall within the Administrative and Constitutional Law and Human Rights NPA.

Before you can commence a human rights claim about unlawful discrimination in the Federal Court, you must first make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission and that complaint must have been terminated by the Commission.

You can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419.

The Court has developed the Guide to Human Rights Cases which sets out important information about these types of matters.


Administrative Law or Constitutional Law matters

What are administrative law or constitutional law matters?

Administrative law and constitutional law matters fall within the Administrative and Constitutional Law and Human Rights NPA.

If your case concerns the conduct and decision-making involving Commonwealth statutory or non-statutory (executive) powers, then your matter is likely to be an administrative law matter.

If your case involves the Australian Constitution, or its interpretation and that is the main part of your case, then your case is likely to be a constitutional law matter.

The Court has developed the Guide to Administrative or Constitutional Law Cases which sets out important information about these types of matters.


Migration matters

What is migration?

Migration is the movement of people across a specified boundary for the purpose of establishing a new or semi-permanent residence. Immigration law relates to the act of entering a country with the intention of remaining there permanently.

Some migration matters fall within the Administrative and Constitutional Law and Human Rights NPA, while others come under the Federal Court's appellate jurisdiction.

The Federal Court has developed the Migration Law Guide which sets out specific information about migration matters in the Court, including migration appeals and appeal related applications.


Employment / Fair Work matters

Unfair dismissal, termination or contravention of a general protection – when can you complain to the Federal Court?

For a number of the employment/fair work matters, the Federal Court is not the only court, and may not be the most appropriate court, in which to commence a proceeding.

Section 539 of the Fair Work Act (contravention of civil remedy) is an example of a provision which identifies the courts in which proceedings may be commenced.

In some cases, it may be necessary first to obtain the certificate of the Fair Work Commission: see, eg, ss 370 and 778 of the Fair Work Act (unlawful termination applications). Intending applicants should give careful attention to these issues and requirements.

For further information, see also:


Native Title

What is Native Title?

Under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), the Federal Court is responsible for the management and determination of all applications relating to native title in Australia. Native title matters fall within the Native Title NPA.

Native title describes the recognition by the Australian legal system of rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to land and waters according to their traditional laws and customs.

More information about native title and how to start a native title matter is available on the Court's Native Title NPA webpage.