- 1970-08-12 - 1974-03-14 (Creation)
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Name of creator
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.
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Scope and content
This series contains files for several types of prerogative writs. These were writs issued by the Supreme Court for the supervision of inferior courts, tribunals and administrative bodies. The different types are described on the next page.
The series has been artificially created for easier access. Although each kind of writ was generally filed separately, three consignments contain several kinds of writs, with date ranges overlapping those filed separately. From 1972 the writs were treated as ordinary civil actions, and were filed as civil files.
State Archives does not hold registers for these files. The consignment lists supply names of the parties and a control number for identification when requesting the file.
TYPES OF WRITS
The Supreme Court quashed decisions of inferior courts, tribunals and administrative bodies if they had been made outside the limits of that body's power.
The Supreme Court ordered an inferior court, tribunal or administrative body not to carry out an act which would lie outside its powers.
This was a Supreme Court order to an inferior court, tribunal, public official, corporation, etc to perform a public duty related to its responsibilities.
4. Habeas Corpus
This writ was used to challenge the validity of a person's detention, either in official custody or in private hands. Most cases involved either claims of unlawful imprisonment or disputes over custody of children.