- 1866-11-04 - 1900-03-28 (Creation)
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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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In 1866 30 Vic No. 5, an Ordinance to give a preferable lien on wool, became law. Where any person (usually a merchant) made a bonafide advance of money or goods or promissory note, he was given a preferential lien on the next ensuing clip of wool. The preferable lien on wool was devised as a means of solving the difficulty of interim finance for squatters whose income came from their only asset, and then only once a year. It provided the sheepmen with the means of borrowing against either the stock itself or against the anticipated woolclip of the season.
It meant that the funds could become available up to a year before the wool was sold, as opposed to receiving advances only when the clip had been delivered in December to the merchant's store or to the ship. The lien was registered at the Registrar's Office of the Supreme Court. (The registers also include mortgages on sheep, cattle and horses etc).
These registers provide access to files in Record Series No. 246 (Files - Lien on Wool) and also cover the periods for which files are not held.
In Register 1, entries are given a running number to the end of 1888, after which an annual single number system is used.
Register 2 has an alphabetical index of lienors' names (persons receiving the advance) at the front.
Information in the register entries includes Names of Lienor, witness and Lienee (person or company making the advance), amount of advance and a description of the stock or wool mortgaged.