Product liability—Australia—Q&A guide

The following Commercial practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Product liability—Australia—Q&A guide
  • 1. What is the structure of the civil court system?
  • 2. What is the role of the judge in civil proceedings and what is the role of the jury?
  • 3. What are the basic pleadings filed with the court to institute, prosecute and defend the product liability action and what is the sequence and timing for filing them?
  • 4. Are there any pre-filing requirements that must be satisfied before a formal lawsuit may be commenced by the product liability claimant?
  • 5. Are mechanisms available to the parties to seek resolution of a case before a full hearing on the merits?
  • 6. What is the basic trial structure?
  • 7. Are there class, group or other collective action mechanisms available to product liability claimants? Can such actions be brought by representative bodies?
  • 8. How long does it typically take a product liability action to get to the trial stage and what is the duration of a trial?
  • 9. What is the nature and extent of pretrial preservation and disclosure of documents and other evidence? Are there any avenues for pretrial discovery?
  • More...

Product liability—Australia—Q&A guide

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to product liability in Australia published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: February 2021).

Authors: Clayton Utz—Colin Loveday; Greg Williams

1. What is the structure of the civil court system?

Australia has a federal court system and a hierarchy of courts in each of the states and territories. The High Court of Australia (the High Court) is empowered to determine constitutional disputes and is the ultimate court of appeal. Product liability litigation usually commences in the Federal Court of Australia (the Federal Court) or the supreme, county or district courts of one of the states or territories.

The consideration of choice of law questions, the causes of action alleged and the quantum of damages sought will usually determine the forum for a product liability matter. In complex product liability matters, this will often be the Federal Court.

2. What is the role of the judge in civil proceedings and what is the role of the jury?

Product liability litigation may be brought in either the Federal Court or the state supreme courts. Such proceedings are generally heard by a judge sitting without a jury. However, there are provisions in the various court rules for some matters to be heard by a jury.

Civil litigation in Australia is conducted on an adversarial basis.

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