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.

Supreme Court of Western Australia
Coat of arms of Western Australia.svg
Supreme court wa.jpg
Façade of the Supreme Court of Western Australia
Established18 June 1861
Jurisdiction Western Australia
Coordinates31°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 methodGovernor appointed by the recommendation of Cabinet.
Authorized byParliament of Western Australia via the:
Appeals toHigh Court of Australia
Appeals from
Judge term lengthMandatory retirement by age 70[1]
Number of positionsAs many as necessary to deal with workload;[2] currently 21 judges
Chief Justice of Western Australia
CurrentlyJustice Peter Quinlan
Since13 August 2018


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 Appeal Court and sit as a Court of Disputed Returns.

The current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is Peter Quinlan SC who was appointed to the position in August 2018.[3][4]


The Supreme Court was established on 18 June 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.[5]

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.

Judicial officersEdit

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

Chief JusticeEdit

President of the Court of AppealEdit

  • Michael Buss (18 July 2016; appointed as Judge of Appeal on 1 February 2006)

Judges of the Court of AppealEdit

Judges of the General DivisionEdit


Principal RegistrarEdit

  • Natalie Whitby


  • Christopher Boyle
  • Sandra Boyle
  • Danielle Davies
  • Simon Dixon
  • June Eaton (Registrar Court of Appeal)
  • Rainer Gilich
  • Janet Whitbread

Supreme Court buildingEdit

Supreme Court Building
Supreme Court, north front
General information
TypeHeritage listed building
LocationPerth, Western Australia
Official nameSupreme Court Buildings and Gardens, Old Court House, Stirling Gardens
TypeState Registered Place
Designated14 February 2003
Reference no.1947

The Supreme Court building has considerable heritage significance in Western Australia. In 1899, a joint parliamentary committee was formed to decide on the location of the new court building with three sites being considered.[7] The locations were a site in Irwin Street, the old Government Boys' School on St George's Terrace and the current site.[7] After a decision was made and a contract awarded for £55,888 11s 3p to RP Vincent and Sons in February 1901, an announcement was made to the public during March of that year.[7] The foundation stone was laid on 2 June 1902 and would open on 8 June 1903 with WA Governor Sir Frederick Bedford present as was the Chief Justice Sir Edward Stone and the full court.[7]

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 only local materials to be used with Donnybrook stone, Meckering granite and jarrah wood the choice. Stuccoed cement had to be substituted when insufficient quantities of Donnybrook stone of identical texture and colour were lacking for the building.[7] Another change was the slate roof, when a galvanized roof was installed instead saving £5,425.[7] 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.[7] The foyer was more appropriately redecorated to celebrate the Court’s centenary in 2003.[8][7]

David Malcolm Justice CentreEdit

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[9][10][11] located at 28 Barrack Street which is immediately north of the State Buildings complex.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Judges' Retirement Act 1937 (WA) s 3
  2. ^ Supreme Court Act 1935 (WA) s 7A
  3. ^ Tim Clarke (1 August 2018). "New court chief's aim is justice for all". The West Australian. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  4. ^ Jerome Doraisamy (1 August 2018). "Western Australia Attorney-General John Quigley has named the next top judge for Australia's Wildflower State". Lawyers Weekly. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Supreme Court of Western Australia Celebrating 150 Years" (PDF). Supreme Court of Western Australia. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  6. ^ Quigley, John (3 April 2019). "Justice Pritchard first woman to be appointed President of the SAT". Government of Western Australia. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "History of the Supreme Court of Western Australia" (PDF). Supreme Court of Western Australia. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  8. ^ "inHerit - State Heritage Office". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Former chief justice David Malcolm honoured with 33-storey tower". 11 March 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. ^ Mirvac Tower named the David Malcolm Justice Centre
  11. ^ "David Malcolm Justice Centre towers over Cathedral Square". Retrieved 14 April 2018.


Further readingEdit

  • 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).