Identity area

Reference code

AU WA S864




  • 1973-01-01 - (Creation)

Level of description






Context area

Name of creator


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

With the establishment of the Supreme Court in 1861, criminal matters were transferred to the Supreme Court. A Justice Act, No. 14 of 1902 was created to establish a "Code of Criminal Law". This Code was repealed and re-enacted with amendments between 1902-1913 by Act No.28 of 1913.
From 1973, files relating to Criminal cases were given an annual single number, rather than a sequential case number. Files may contain some or all of the documents listed below -
Indictment (the file cover), Depositions (statements of witnesses, probably taken by police at initiation of proceedings), Antecedent Report, Associate's Record
Transcript, Pre-Sentence Report.

1a) Consult Registers (WAS 49) to find the case number, then go to the consignment list for WAS 864 to check whether State Archives holds that file.

b) If the case is noted in the register without a file number, note the date of the sitting, and look at the consignment list for that date in WAS 864.

c) If the case is not listed in the register, still look in the list for WAS 864. Some case files were not registered.

2 ) Case numbers of files not held by State Archives are indicated in the Consignment listing by a semi-colon.

3 ) When requesting the file, give the control number, file number (or names of parties) and sitting date from the consignment list.


System of arrangement


Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Restricted 75 years

Conditions governing access (legacy)

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Related units of description


Category of relationship


Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1973-01-01 -


Category of relationship


Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1861-01-01 - 1972-12-31

Related units of description

Access points

Place access points

Description control area

Level of detail




Archivist's note

Range Control Symbol = 1/1973-

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places