Supreme Court of Victoria

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Supreme Court of Victoria
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Arms of the Supreme Court of Victoria
Established 1852
Country  Victoria,  Australia
Location Melbourne
Coordinates 37°48′51″S 144°57′29″E / 37.814132°S 144.957932°E / -37.814132; 144.957932Coordinates: 37°48′51″S 144°57′29″E / 37.814132°S 144.957932°E / -37.814132; 144.957932
Composition method Appointed by Governor on the advice of the Executive Council.
Authorized by Victorian Constitution
Decisions are appealed to Court of Appeal, High Court of Australia
Judge term length mandatory retirement by age of 70
No. of positions 61
Chief Justice of Victoria
Currently The Honourable Chief Justice Marilyn Warren AC
Since 26 November 2003

The Supreme Court of Victoria is the superior court for the State of Victoria, Australia. It was founded in 1852, and is a superior court of common law and equity, with unlimited jurisdiction within the state. Those courts lying below it include the County Court of Victoria and the Magistrates' Court of Victoria. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which is not a court, serves a judicial function. Above it lies the High Court of Australia. This places it around the middle of the Australian court hierarchy. The building itself is on the Victorian Heritage Register.



The Law Courts, 192-228 William Street, are part of a complex of buildings which together with the Supreme Court Library and Court of Appeal are known as the Melbourne Law Courts. Architects AL Smith and AE Johnson won a competition for their design and prepared the working drawings. The competition created a scandal because one of the partners, Johnson, was on the judging panel. Johnson resigned from the Public Works Department and joined Smith in a long and successful partnership. J J Clark and P Kerr undertook the detail drawings for the Public Works Department, which also supervised the works. Erected in 1874-84, the Law Courts comprise two storeys constructed of brick on Malmsbury bluestone footings and faced with Tasmanian freestone. The first court sitting was held in February 1884. In plan the Law Courts comprise a square block of buildings each street facades measuring 85 metres. The design is reputed to be based on the design of James Gandon's Four Courts building in Dublin, following a suggestion to Smith and Johnson by Chief Justice Sir William Stawell. One court occupies each of the four corners of the square, and the remaining four courts occupy the lateral north and south wings. The remaining areas occupied by administrative offices and Judges' Chambers, all enclosing a circular courtyard. A covered carriageway leads from Lonsdale Street to the central courtyard. In the courtyard sits the Supreme Court Library. Stylistically the design draws on the classicism of the Renaissance. The three floors appropriate to the Renaissance palazzo form of a base, piano nobile and attic storey. The parapet hides the roof. The recessed central bay to the William Street facade is treated as a double open arcade of Ionic and Composite columns. Some severity is lent to the building by the plentiful use of blind windows and niches. A variety of treatments are applied to the window openings and aedicules, variously being round arched, broken pediments or flat arched. The Law Courts design included provision for an integrated heating and ventilation system.[1]


The Supreme Court of Victoria is located on the corner of Lonsdale and William Streets, Melbourne; adjacent to the Melbourne Magistrates' Court and the County Court of Victoria. These buildings known collectively as the Melbourne Law Courts comprise a complex of two story brick constructions, resting on a Malmbury bluestone and Tasmanian freestone base.[2] The combination stone base is acknowledged for the expert masonry craftsmanship used in its construction. The site is contained within a square block with a court positioned at each of its corners. Additional courts are located along the lateral, north and south wings. Administration offices and Judges Chambers enclose a circular central courtyard from which rises the Supreme Court Library with its central tower and dome.

Key influences and design approach[edit]

Johnson and Smith were English immigrants who designed public buildings in a Classical style. Their design for the Melbourne Supreme Court is no exception, and draws on the style of Renaissance revival architecture. The Library tower is particularly expressive of this style with its three floors appropriating to form a base, piano nobile and attic story. A former Chief Justice, Sir William Stawell, suggested that the building may have had design origins in James Gandon's Four Courts building in Dublin.[2]

Jurisdiction of Supreme Court[edit]

The Supreme Court has two divisions - the Trial Division and the Court of Appeal.

The Trial Division sits with one judge, and usually acts as a court of original jurisdiction for serious criminal matters such as murder, attempted murder, corporate offences and certain conspiracy charges, and civil matters which are considered to involve greater complexity or amounts of money more than would be appropriate to have determined in the Magistrates' Court (whose civil jurisdictional limit is $100,000) or County Court (whose jurisdiction has since the beginning of 2007 been unlimited as to amount). The Trial Division also acts as an appeal court from the Magistrates' Court on questions of law, and appeals from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on points of law, except against an order of the President or Vice-President of the Tribunal. It also hears federal indictable offences such as treason.

The Court of Appeal hears appeals from the County Court and the Trial Division, as well as appeals on points of law from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal against the order of the President or Vice-President, and usually consists of a panel of three Judges of Appeal. In rare cases where it is sought to overrule or reconsider the correctness of a previous Court of Appeal decision, it can sit with five judges.

Front facade of the Supreme Court of Victoria
Supreme Court of Victoria Front Entrance
View of Lonsdale Street facade
Supreme Court of Victoria Library Tower Dome


The Supreme Court of Victoria is located on the corner of Lonsdale and William Streets, Melbourne - the same intersection as the Melbourne Magistrates' Court and the County Court of Victoria.

The main buildings for the Supreme Court are located at the corner of William and Lonsdale Streets in Melbourne and in nearby buildings.[3]

The Supreme Court also does circuits to Ballarat, Geelong, Warrnambool, Hamilton, Horsham, Bendigo, Mildura, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Wodonga, Sale and Morwell. In these locations the Court uses the facilities of the local Magistrates' Court.[3]

Current Judges[edit]

As of September 2012 (appointment date in brackets):[4]

Chief Justice[edit]

President of the Court of Appeal[edit]

Judges of the Court of Appeal[edit]

Judges of the Trial Division[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Law Courts". Victorian Heritage Council. 
  2. ^ a b "Law Courts: 192-228 William Street and 459-505 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne". Walking Melbourne. 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Locations". Retrieved 2017-05-22. 
  4. ^ "Judges". Supreme Court of Victoria. 

External links[edit]