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Criminal vs.

Civil Law
Laws have prescribed the standards of
acceptable behaviour and the
consequences that will occur if these
standards are breached. These
standards are defined in terms of
unacceptable conduct as crimes and
civil wrongs.
English courts originally divided crimes and civil
wrongs into two main branches of law: Civil and
Australia inherited these two branches of law
during British settlement
Criminal Law
All behaviour is lawful unless prohibited by law
Defines the standards of unacceptable behaviour
by imposing sanctions to punish people who
breach these standards by committing offences
A crime is an unlawful act that is deemed by law
(Parliament or Judge made law) to be a public
Offenders will be prosecuted by a government
Criminal Law
Criminal disputes are between the state and the
individual. The state acts on behalf of the
An accused person is innocent until proven guilty
The consequence of committing a crime is a

The main purpose of criminal law is to
protect the lives and personal safety of
members of society
Criminal Law also

Regulates general standards of lawful public behaviour, such as driving
on public roads
Civil Law
Private civil law is applied when an aggrieved party
seeks a civil remedy in a civil court because the
wrongdoer will not accept liability for the harm
caused by his or her unlawful behaviour
Civil Law
Like criminal law, people are free to pursue their daily
lives, until a court decides that they must accept civil
liability for their behaviour
A civil wrong is an act that infringes an individuals
The plaintiff (wronged person) can seek a civil
remedy in a court of civil jurisdiction
The state takes no active part in civil cases other
than providing a body of civil laws to regulate dispute
resolution so that just outcomes can be achieved
Australian courts have created many civil laws
The High Court of Australia is the highest court of
The supreme nature of the HCA has made many
aspects of civil law uniform throughout the nation
If a case is both of civil and
criminal nature, it is
customary for the criminal
matter to be resolved first
The issues raised in the
criminal trial are not
allowed to be used as
evidence in a civil trial
The same witnesses may
give evidence in both the
criminal and civil trials, but
the cases are kept
completely separate