State Records Office of WA SROWA

Government of Western Australia, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Series S889 - FILES - CASES IN EQUITY

Identity area

Reference code

AU WA S889

Title

FILES - CASES IN EQUITY

Date(s)

  • 1876-07-31 - 1903-11-26 (Creation)

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Files

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Context area

Name of creator

AU WA A44 - SUPREME COURT OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA (1861-01-01 -)

Administrative history

A Court of Quarter Sessions was established in Western Australia in 1830 and a Civil Court established two years later. However, as the colony grew and as society became more complex, the judiciary became overtaxed. In the 1850s the equity jurisdiction of the Civil Court was challenged while the courts' jurisdiction in criminal matters was questioned. For these and other reasons, the Supreme Court Ordinance of 1861 was introduced.

The Supreme Court Ordinance (proclaimed on 18 June 1861) provided for a Supreme Court which had the same criminal, common law, and equity jurisdiction as the Courts of Westminister. The Ordinance amalgamated the Court of Quarter Sessions with the Supreme Court and transferred to it a number of functions of the Civil Court. For example, the Supreme Court was empowered to grant probates and letters of administration and given jurisdiction in bankruptcy matters. After 1863, the Supreme Court was also given jurisdiction in matrimonial causes (i.e. divorces).

Under the Ordinance, the officers of the Supreme Court were to be the Chief Justice (Archibald Paull Burt), an Attorney-General, a Master, and a Registrar.

In 1880 a new Supreme Court Act was introduced. The Act which came into force on 1 August 1881, clarified the Court's jurisidiction in admiralty matters and empowered the Chief Justice to make Rules for the conduct of the Court. Provision was also made for the appointment of one or more puisne judges and for the Chief Justice and other judges to sit as a Full Court. Initially, the Full Court could only entertain motions for retrials and pronounce on points of law, but after 1886 it was given the status of a Court of Appeal.

The first sitting of the Supreme Court was held on 3 July 1861 and for the first few years it occupied premises in the Police Court and Gaol Building in Beaufort Street, Perth. In 1863 it moved to the old (1836) Court House in Stirling Gardens and in 1880 moved again to the old (1835) Commissariat Store at the foot of Barrack Street. Despite alterations the Commissariat building was inadequate and in the 1890's work began on a new, purposely-designed courthouse. The new building, completed in 1903, is still the principal seat of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

These files relate to cases in equity. Equity is a system of jurisprudence developed in England to supplement and remedy the limitations and inflexibility of the common law. It related particularly to land and ties to, or hold over land. Holding equity in something implies some degree of ownership. Many of the cases here relate to property held by trustees/guardians on behalf of infants following the death of their fathers.
Access to these files is generally through the Register (WAS 297). Look under names of all parties, including companies.
The files are arranged alphabetically by name. (Request files by name, even if they do not appear in the register. Request them under names of all parties involved.
See also: Cases in Equity (WAS 890), as some files in that series fall into the same time period.

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Numerical

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Identifier

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Related

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Dates of relationship

1858-01-01 - 1889-01-01

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Identifier

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Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1876-01-01 - 1903-01-01

Authorized form of name

Identifier

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Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1833-01-01 - 1880-01-01

Authorized form of name

Identifier

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Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1832-01-01 - 1888-01-01

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Archivist's note

Range Control Symbol = 1 -

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