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
Façade of the Supreme Court of Western Australia
Established18 June 1861
Jurisdiction Western Australia
Coordinates31°57′27″S 115°51′36″E
Composition methodGovernor appointed by the recommendation of Cabinet.
Authorized byParliament of Western Australia via the:
Appeals toHigh Court of Australia
Appeals from
  • District Court of WA
  • Magistrates Court of WA
  • Family Court of WA
  • State Administrative Tribunal
Children’s Court of Western Australia
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.

Plans to relocate the Court building were announced to the public in March 1901, after a parliamentary committee examined various options and decided on the current location on St George’s Terrace. A government decree that only local materials be used in the construction caused difficulties and delays, culminating in a Royal Commission in 1902. Finally, the new building was officially opened on 8 June 1903, by newly-arrived Governor, Sir Frederick Bedford.[6]

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 officers

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

Chief Justice

  • Peter Quinlan (13 August 2018)

President of the Court of Appeal

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

Judges of the Court of Appeal

  • Graeme Murphy (3 August 2010; appointed as Judge on 28 April 2009)
  • Robert Mazza (2011; appointed as Judge on 4 March 2010)
  • Robert Mitchell (18 July 2016; appointed as Judge in October 2014)
  • Andrew Beech (24 May 2017; appointed as Judge on 25 June 2007)
  • Janine Pritchard (President, State Administrative Tribunal as of 4 June 2019;[7] appointed as Judge of Appeal on 13 September 2018; appointed as Judge on 11 June 2010)
  • John Vaughan (4 June 2019; appointed as Judge on 30 April 2018)

Judges of the General Division

  • Rene Le Miere (Senior Puisne Judge) (2 February 2004)
  • Kenneth Martin (23 March 2009)
  • Stephen Hall (6 July 2009)
  • Michael Corboy (19 April 2010)
  • Jeremy Allanson (9 August 2010)
  • Jeremy Curthoys (10 February 2014)
  • Paul Tottle (10 August 2015)
  • Bruno Fiannaca (31 August 2015)
  • Joseph McGrath (28 November 2016)
  • Gail Archer (29 May 2017)
  • Anthony Derrick (6 March 2018)
  • Jennifer Smith (27 June 2018; acting judge from 1 August 2017)
  • Jenni Hill (4 June 2019)
  • Larissa Strk (9 June 2021)
  • Marcus Solomon (4 August 2021)


  • Craig Sanderson

Principal Registrar

  • Kate McDonald (Acting)


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

Supreme Court building

Supreme Court Building
Supreme Court, north front
General information
TypeHeritage listed building
LocationPerth, Western Australia
Western Australia Heritage Register
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.[8] The locations were a site in Irwin Street, the old Government Boys' School on St George's Terrace and the current site.[8] 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.[8] 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.[8]

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.[8] Another change was the slate roof, when a galvanized roof was installed instead saving £5,425.[8] 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.[8] The foyer was more appropriately redecorated to celebrate the Court’s centenary in 2003.[9][8]

David Malcolm Justice Centre

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[10][11][12] located at 28 Barrack Street which is immediately north of the State Buildings complex.

See also


  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. "History of the Supreme Court of Western Australia" (PDF). Supreme Court of WA.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. Quigley, John (3 April 2019). "Justice Pritchard first woman to be appointed President of the SAT". Government of Western Australia. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  8. "History of the Supreme Court of Western Australia" (PDF). Supreme Court of Western Australia. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  9. "inHerit - State Heritage Office". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. "Former chief justice David Malcolm honoured with 33-storey tower". 11 March 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  11. Mirvac Tower named the David Malcolm Justice Centre
  12. "David Malcolm Justice Centre towers over Cathedral Square". Retrieved 14 April 2018.


Further reading

  • 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).

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