The Roles Of: Courts, Tribunals And Independent Statutory Authorities

Courts, Tribunals And Independent Statutory Authorities

  • Courts
      • Courts are legal institutions who are bestowed with law enforcement as well as judicial authorities.
      • In a sovereign state, the government usually establishes courts, which then operate under a set of rules and protocols. Courts are majorly responsible for resolving disputes between parties, which may include individuals, organisations and even the state by interpreting and applying the laws of the state.
      • Often, International Courts participate in resolving legal disputes between countries, international organisations, or individuals from different countries.
      • The jurisdiction of international courts however, is limited to specific areas of law such as human rights, international trade, or war crimes.
      • International courts resolve disputes between nations and organisations by holding a neutral forum, to make sure the rule of law is applied equally to all parties involved.
      • Some examples of international courts include –
        • International Court of Justice (ICJ)
        • International Criminal Court (ICC)
        • International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)
        • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
        • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • Tribunals
      • Established by the government, a tribunal is by function, a legal forum that resolves very specific kinds of disputes and imparts decisions on particular issues.
      • As compared to courts, the jurisdiction of tribunals is much narrower, and they specialise in areas of law like administrative law, employment law, or tax law. Additionally, processes in tribunals are rather informal in contrast with those of courts; and their rules of evidence are much more flexible. Tribunals also allow people of non legal occupations (non-lawyers) to serve as adjudicators.
      • Tribunals are empowered to hear cases related to specific subject matters, such as labour law, immigration law, or tax law.
      • In the years 1993 and 1994, the Security Council established two international tribunals, the International Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR). The ICTY prosecuted individuals who were involved in severe human right violation activities in former Yugoslavia. The ICTR led the prosecution of people responsible for genocide and other severe violations of the international humanitarian law within the territory of Rwanda.
  • Independent Statutory Authorities
      • These are organisations that are created by the law to provide impartial and objective advice and services to the public. However, these organisations operate independently of the government.
      • Independent Statutory Authorities are kept separate from government organisations to perform specialised functions without fear or favour. Regardless, they are accountable to both the government and the public for their actions and decisions.
      • Some examples include –
        • Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) – Responsible for regulating corporations, financial markets, and financial services in Australia.
        • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – Responsible for enforcing competition and consumer law in Australia.
        • Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) – Responsible for regulating broadcasting, telecommunications, and radiocommunications in Australia
        • Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) – Responsible for conducting federal elections and referendums in Australia.
        • Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) – Responsible for promoting and protecting human rights in Australia.

Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.