The Judges of the General Division of the Supreme Court sit as single Judges to hear civil and criminal matters at trial and matters on appeal from Justices of the Peace and Magistrates sitting as the Magistrates Court exercising criminal jurisdiction. It takes its authority from the Supreme Court Act 1935 (WA) Pt III, s 16.
Judges in this Division hear criminal matters of a most serious nature, such as murder, armed robbery, arson and serious Commonwealth drug offences. Judges generally preside over jury trials, where a jury of 12 men and women from the community decide if an individual is guilty or not guilty of a criminal charge. The Judge is responsible for ensuring that all parties comply with the rules of evidence and procedure, instructing the jury and sentencing offenders who are found guilty by a jury or who plead guilty before the Judge. On occasion, Judges will preside over a trial without a jury (known as a Judge alone trial) to hear a criminal matter.
The Division also deals with civil matters of a complex nature or where the amount involved in a dispute is more than $750,000, as well as applications for injunctions and other forms of relief. In Western Australia, most civil trials are heard without a jury.
Civil actions are heard by a single judge. Prior to hearing they are usually managed by a registrar who gives directions to the parties to try and ensure that each case settles by agreement between the parties or proceeds to trial in the quickest, most cost effective way, consistently with the need to provide a just outcome. The Supreme Court Rules, O29A deals with management of cases by Registrars. From September 1 2006 the management of cases that require more intensive supervision than that provided by the Registrars pursuant to Order 29A has been rationalised by the abolition of all previous specialised lists and the creation of a new list called the Commercial and Managed Cases List. Practice Direction 4.1.2 provides further information about the List. Although the Rules may be amended to reflect this change in practice, the Supreme Court Rules, Orders 29 and 29A, and standard directions which are attached to the Practice Direction will be utilised as case management tools.
Single Judges of the General Division hear appeals from matters originating in the Magistrates Court exercising criminal jurisdiction. This jurisdiction is granted by the Criminal Appeals Act 2004 (WA), Pt II, s 7. An Article, written by the Hon. Justice McKechnie, which outlines the procedure applicable to single judge appeals, and the Forms that are relevant to single judge appeals are published on this site. The forms can be downloaded and completed, then printed and filed at Court.
Single Judges of the General Division also have exclusive jurisdiction to grant bail to a person in custody for murder. They also deal with bail issues arising in matters which have been committed for trial or sentence to the Supreme Court.
The General Division has Probate jurisdiction in relation to the granting or revoking of Probate of Wills and Letters of Administration in Western Australia. Its powers in respect to this jurisdiction are given to the Court by the Administration Act 1903 (WA).
This Division also deals with disputed elections, admiralty matters (disputes involving ships) and matters arising under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
The Masters of the Supreme Court have power, pursuant to the Supreme Court Act 1935 (WA) and the Supreme Court Rules 1971, O 60, to hear and determine many applications before the Court in the General Division. However Masters cannot hear proceedings on the Crown side of the Court, criminal proceedings or proceedings relating to the liberty of a person.
The Registrars, except for the one Court of Appeal Registrar, deal with the case management of civil matters in the General Division, including the mediation of such matters. Registrar C Boyle has prepared a guide to assist litigants in preparing for mediation.
The General Division consists of the Chief Justice and fifteen other Supreme Court Judges. The Chief Justice is the principal judicial officer of the Supreme Court and is responsible for the day to day administration of the Division.
The Judges are:
The general procedure in matters before the General Division is contained in the Rules of the Supreme Court 1971 (Civil Proceedings) and the Criminal Procedure Rules 2005 (Criminal Proceedings). The Court also issues Practice Directions relating to various applications.
All documents for all matters within the General Division, including probate documents (deceased estates) are filed in the Central Office.
The contact details of the Central Office are:
The contact details of the Probate Office are:
Last updated: 29-Nov-2016
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