Supreme Court of Western Australia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Supreme Court of Western Australia
Western Australian Coat of Arms.svg
Established 1861
Country  Western Australia,  Australia
Location Perth
Coordinates 31°57′27″S 115°51′36″E / 31.95754°S 115.859879°E / -31.95754; 115.859879Coordinates: 31°57′27″S 115°51′36″E / 31.95754°S 115.859879°E / -31.95754; 115.859879
Composition method Governor appointed by the recommendation of Cabinet.
Authorized by Western Australian Constitution
Decisions are appealed to High Court of Australia
Judge term length mandatory retirement by age of 70[1]
Number of positions As many as necessary to deal with workload;[2] currently 20 judges
Chief Justice of Western Australia
Currently Wayne Martin
Since 1 May 2006
Supreme Court of Western Australia

The Supreme Court of Western Australia is the highest state court in the Australian State of Western Australia. It has unlimited jurisdiction within the state in civil matters (although it usually only hears matters involving sums of A$750,000 or more), and hears the most serious criminal matters.

The Supreme Court consists of a General Division (equivalent to the Trial Division in other states) and the Court of Appeal.

The General Division deals with serious criminal matters, civil cases where the amount claimed is greater than $750,000, criminal appeals from the Magistrates Court and appeals from other bodies such as the State Administrative Tribunal. The General Division sits in the David Malcolm Justice Centre for civil proceedings and the District Court of WA Building and the original Supreme Court Building for criminal proceedings.

The Court of Appeal hears both civil and criminal appeals from cases in the General Division, the District Court and the State Administrative Tribunal. It sits in the original Supreme Court Building.

When required, Supreme Court judges may also constitute the Industrial Court of Western Australia and the Court of Disputed Returns.

The current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the Hon. Wayne Martin AC who was formally appointed to the position on 4 April 2006. Martin was appointed after a lengthy selection process which followed the retirement of David Malcolm on 7 February. Martin had been one of Western Australia's leading QC's before his appointment.


The Supreme Court was established in 1861 when the Court of Quarter Sessions (a criminal court for serious matters) and the Civil Court were amalgamated. Sir Archibald Burt was the first Chief Justice of the court.

The Full Court of the Supreme Court was established in 1886 to decide both criminal and civil appeals. In 1893 the criminal appeals were transferred to the Court of Appeal which was then reconstituted as the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1911.

The Supreme Court, Full Court and Court of Criminal Appeal were effectively the one court with each judge able to sit on cases in any of the courts.

In 2004 the Full Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal were subsumed by the Court of Appeal, which, while still a division of the Supreme Court, has judges which sit solely on appeal cases.

Heritage Building[edit]

The Supreme Court building has considerable heritage significance in Western Australia. It was completed in 1903. The two-storey brick building was designed by John Harry Grainger (father of Percy Grainger), Chief Architect with the Public Works Department of Western Australia. It is designed in the Federation Academic Classical style: a style that was often used for major public buildings of the time. The original design called for local stone to be used, but stuccoed cement had to be substituted because of lack of funds. Originally, the grand foyer was to be painted in colours reflecting those of the glass domes, but again shortage of funds dictated the substitution of whitewash. The foyer was more appropriately redecorated to celebrate the Court’s centenary in 2003.[3] [4]

New Building[edit]

On 11 July 2016, the Supreme Court's Registry and General Division (Civil) relocated from the original Supreme Court Building to the new David Malcolm Justice Centre located at 28 Barrack Street, Perth.

Judicial Officers[edit]

The Supreme Court is currently constituted by the following judicial officers (in order of seniority):

Chief Justice[edit]

President of the Court of Appeal[edit]

Judges of the Court of Appeal[edit]

Judges of the General Division[edit]


  • Craig Sanderson

Principal Registrar[edit]

  • Simon Dixon (Acting)


  • Sandra Boyle
  • Christopher Boyle
  • Linda Bush (Registrar Court of Appeal)
  • Danielle Davies
  • Janet Whitbread
  • Natalie Whitby
  • Rainer Gilich


Further reading[edit]

  • State Archives of Western Australia. (1990) Bankruptcy records of the Supreme Court of Western Australia compiled by the State Archives of Western Australia.

(Alphabetical list of bankruptcy files held by the State Archives. Covers the period 1857–1928).

See also[edit]