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The Federal Circuit Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Court to enforce determinations of the Privacy Commissioner, and private sector adjudicators, under the Privacy Act 1988.

The key features of the Federal Circuit Court's jurisdiction are:

  • where there is no relevant privacy code in place the Australian Privacy Principles will apply;
  • where someone is not satisfied with the way in which an organisation is handling his or her personal information, they can take up their concern with the relevant organisation in the first instance;
  • privacy codes will normally contain complaints handling procedures for the organisation. These will involve the use of private adjudicators to resolve complaints;
  • where there is no complaints handling procedure in place the Privacy Commissioner will adjudicate;
  • the emphasis is intended to be on mediation or conciliation of complaints but where this is not possible the private adjudicator or the Privacy Commissioner will be required to make a determination on the complaint;
  • determinations may be reviewed under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977;
  • determinations are not self executing but may be enforced by application to the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court;
  • enforcement proceedings may be instituted by a complainant, the Commissioner or the private adjudicator;
  • proceedings are by way of hearing de novo but evidence received by the Commissioner or adjudicator is available to the Court, as well as their reasons;
  • the Commissioner or adjudicator can issue a certificate which is prima facie evidence of a breach of the relevant privacy code or Australian Privacy Principles;
  • if an interference with privacy is established the Court can make such orders as it sees fit, including a declaration of right or an injunction, for which there is to be no undertaking as to damages;
  • the old regime for the enforcement of determinations by the Commissioner of breaches of the old Information Privacy Principles by Commonwealth public sector agencies continues to apply, but with the Federal Circuit Court having concurrent jurisdiction to enforce determinations made after the amendment of the Act.