Type of entity
Legal Status Text
Authorized form of name
Other form(s) of name
Dates of existence
At the time of settlement of Western Australia no special consideration had been given to the administration of justice in the Colony other than to give Stirling a Commission of the Peace as Lieutentant Governor. Eight Justices of the Peace were appointed in December 1829 to assist Stirling, and heard both criminal and civil cases at Quarter and Petty Sessions. An Act to regulate summary proceedings before Justices of the Peace was passed in 1844 [12 of 1844], and was further extended the following year with an ordinance enabling the trial of criminal offences in regional areas [4 of 1845]. Records of the Courts were to be transmitted to the Quarter Sessions. The Magistrates District Act 1886, and the Justices Act 1902, more clearly established the Court of Petty Sessions and regional registries. Should no Clerk be appointed, or if the Clerk was absent, the position could be discharged by a Police or Resident Magistrate or could be delegated by Justices in Petty Sessions to a police officer. The Stipendiary Magistrates Act 1957 required the Chief Stipendiary Magistrate to arrange sittings of both Petty Sessions and Local Courts.
A Resident Magistrate was appointed to the Wellington District, sitting at Bunbury, in 1838, and additional magistrates appointed to the district in 1841. A Clerk was appointed to Bunbury in 1841. A combined Court and Police Station was built at Bunbury around 1855, and a new courthouse was built in 1907. However, the Courts quickly took up additional space in surrounding buildings. A new Court complex was completed in 1984.
Structural changes to the State’s judicial system were initially proposed by the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia. With the passing of the Courts Legislation Amendment and Appeal Act 2004, the Magistrates Court Act 2004 and the Magistrates Court (Civil Proceedings) Act 2004, the local courts and the courts of petty session were amalgamated to form the Magistrates Court of Western Australia. The Magistrates Court has a number of registries throughout the State, including Bunbury, to deal with civil and criminal matters.
Functions, occupations and activities
Mandates/sources of authority
An ordinance to make provision for the Trial of Criminal Offences at Albany and other remote Districts of the Colony of WA 1845
Magisterial Districts Act 1886, No 50 Vict No. 17 (from 16/8/1886);
Justices Act 1902
Local Courts Act 1904, No 51 of 1904 (from 1/1/1905).
Stipendiary Magistrates Act 1957
Abolition: 1 May 2005. Criminal Procedure and Appeals Act 2004 and Courts Legislation Amendment and Repeal Act 2004.
Gazetted 31 December 2004, p. 7128.