Funding Litigation in Australia

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Australia, Australian Constitution, Comparative Civil Procedure, Litigation Costs and Funding, Policy and Law Reform


Australia is a federation. It consists of six States and two self-governing Territories. It is a common law system and operates according to rules of civil procedure and practice similar to those used in England. The Australian Constitution divides responsibility for matters related to civil courts and the administration of civil justice among the Commonwealth and the State and Territory governments. In addition to civil courts, there are numerous tribunals at the Commonwealth and State/Territory levels. This chapter will focus primarily on the Commonwealth Federal Court and the Supreme Courts in the States of Victoria and New South Wales.

Understanding litigation costs and funding in Australia is hampered by a lack of empirical information. These issues have not attracted much attention from researchers, most likely because of the obstacles that are encountered in getting enough information from sufficiently wide samples. This is exacerbated by the fact that there is limited statistical information gathered by individual courts, tribunals and other service providers. A recurring theme in policy and law reform reports is the need for more empirical information, comparative analyses across various State, Territory and Commonwealth jurisdictions, and a more systematic approach by courts and tribunals to gathering statistics about costs.1 The lack of such information imposes limits on any attempt to answer costs-related questions about proportionality, predictability and efficiency.