About the Court
The Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory is a superior court of record and it is invested with the original and appellate jurisdiction necessary to administer justice in the Territory.
The Supreme Court’s purpose is:
- To maintain and promote the rule of law; and
- To provide leadership within the justice system.
The Court consists of the Chief Justice, four other resident Judges, a resident Associate Judge, Additional Judges (Federal Court Judges who have an additional appointment to the ACT Supreme Court) and Acting Judges (Judges who have short term appointments of up to twelve months).
The judiciary is supported in interlocutory case management by a Registrar and a Deputy Registrar and by combined Registry staff who assist by maintaining records, processing orders, listing cases and performing other functions. In most cases each Judge is supported by 2 associates. The Sheriff’s Office provides security and administers the jury system. The Russell Fox Library is the main legal reference resource for the ACT Law Courts.
The original and appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is usually exercised by a single Judge. The Associate Judge manages most civil matters and hears many of the civil hearings. Criminal trials are heard before a Judge and jury, or (in a limited range of cases) by a Judge alone, at the election of the accused.
In civil matters the Supreme Court has an unlimited monetary jurisdiction. Claims for less than $250,000 are usually brought in the Magistrates Court. The Supreme Court hears appeals from the Magistrates Court, the Children’s Court and the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
An appeal from the Associate Judge or from a single Judge is heard by the Court sitting as the Court of Appeal which is constituted by three Judges, at least one of whom is a resident Judge.
The Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory was established as a superior court of record on 1 January 1934 by the Seat of Government Supreme Court Act 1933 (Cth). The principal reasons behind the establishment of the Supreme Court were to relieve the High Court of Australia of its original jurisdiction in relation to the Australian Capital Territory and to provide an intermediate court of appeal from what was then the Court of Petty Sessions. In 1992, the Supreme Court was transferred from Commonwealth to Territory administration consequential upon the establishment of the Australian Capital Territory as a body politic.