Description of National Practice Areas

The Court's workload has been reorganised and it is now managed with reference to the National Practice Areas (NPAs) and, where appropriate, Sub-areas.

The following table provides a description of each NPA and Sub-area. It is a general guide and is not intended to be exhaustive.



Administrative and Constitutional Law and Human Rights NPA

Admiralty and Maritime NPA

Commercial and Corporations NPA

  • Commercial disputes and matters relating to corporations, including:
    commercial contract disputes
    disputes concerning the conduct of Corporations and their officers
    financial and transactional disputes
    insurance disputes
    all insolvency matters, both corporate and personal
    commercial class actions
    consumer claims (including Regulator claims)
    competition matters (including Economic Regulator-related matters)
    commercial arbitration disputes


Commercial Contracts, Banking, Finance and Insurance Sub-area

  • Commercial contracts and matters relating to insurance, banking, finance and commercial transactional disputes

Corporations and Corporate Insolvency Sub-area

  • Corporations List and Duty matters, including:
    the appointment or conduct of liquidators
    corporate insolvency matters, such as voidable transactions, extending of convening periods and cross border insolvency
    schemes of arrangement
    shareholder oppression actions
    ASIC actions, such as the approval of director appointments, winding- up of companies, fundraising matters, corporate management and misconduct by company officers
    corporations matters referred to a Judge by a Judicial Registrar


General and Personal Insolvency Sub-area

  • General and personal insolvency matters under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth), including applications by trustees in the management of bankrupt estates, applications by bankrupts contesting decisions of a trustee and applications for annulment of bankruptcy.
  • Bankruptcy matters referred to a Judge by a Judicial Registrar.

Regulator and Consumer Protection Sub-area

  • Consumer-related matters such as misleading and deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct, unfair commercial practices, product liability matters and false advertising.
  • Australian Consumer Law actions by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Economic Regulator, Competition and Access Sub-area

  • Matters concerning anti-competitive conduct, including cartel matters (civil), mergers, misuse of market power and exclusive dealing.
  • Competition actions by the ACCC.
  • Infrastructure access and regulatory pricing.

Commercial Arbitration Sub-area

Employment & Industrial Relations NPA

Federal Crime and Related Proceedings NPA

  • Proceedings relating to:
    summary prosecutions
    prosecutions on indictment
    criminal appeals
    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

Intellectual Property NPA

  • Disputes concerning matters such as patents, trademarks, copyright, designs, circuit layouts, plant breeder's rights and appeals from the Commissioner of Patents or Registrar of Trade Marks


Patents and Associated Statutes Sub-area

  • Patent disputes concerning the exclusive right to commercially exploit inventions (inventive devices, substances, methods or processes)
  • Other disputes, including disputes concerning plant breeder's rights in new and distinct varieties of plants

Trade Marks Sub-area

  • Any Trade Mark dispute, with respect to validity of a Trade Mark and /or distinguishing goods and services (including in respect of a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture and packaging
  • "Geographical indication" disputes involving a geographical indication or other term signifying a related attribute of goods
  • An appeal from a decision of the Registrar of Trade Marks

Copyright and Industrial Design Sub-area

  • Copyright disputes concerning works such as books, computer programs, architectural drawings, musical and artistic works and other subject matter such as films and sound recordings. Design disputes concerning the distinctive shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation of products in an industrial or commercial context
  • Other disputes, including circuit layout disputes concerning layout designs for integrated circuits and computer chips

Native Title NPA

  • Native title claims concerning the rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to land and waters according to their traditional laws and customs, including determinations, revised native title determination applications, compensation applications, claim registration applications, applications to remove agreements from the Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) and applications about the transfer of records
  • Reviews or appeals from decisions of the NNTT
  • Matters arising under or in relation to any ILUA or other agreement made under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (Native Title), or concerning a Prescribed Body Corporate (which holds or manages native title under the Act)

Taxation NPA

  • Tax appeals pursuant to Part IVC of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) from decisions made by the Commissioner of Taxation
  • Questions of law and taxation on appeal from the AAT
  • Any recovery or other proceeding collateral to a tax dispute

Other Federal Jurisdiction

  • If the Court has jurisdiction but the matter does not fall within one of the 8 subject-matter NPAs, the matter will be managed within this NPA.
  • For instance: cases arising under a law of the Parliament -
    • s 39B(1A)(c)) of the Judiciary Act or
    • otherwise in federal jurisdiction that is conferred on the Court such as cases that are in substance:
      negligence claims for damages (such as under legislation governing civil aviation)
      defamation or
      referrals from the High Court of Australia, in its capacity as the Court of Disputed Returns, pursuant to s 329 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.