Type of entity
Legal Status Text
Authorized form of name
Other form(s) of name
Dates of existence
At the time of settlement of Western Australia no special consideration had been given to the administration of justice in the Colony other than to give Stirling a Commission of the Peace as Lieutentant Governor. Eight Justices of the Peace were appointed in December 1829 to assist Stirling and heard both criminal and civil cases at Quarter and Petty Sessions. A Court of Quarter Sessions was formally established in March 1832 and a Civil Court in the same year, both based in Perth. However, with the population of the colony widely distributed throughout the South West of the colony, it was not cost effective to send all cases to Perth and Justices of the Peace in remote districts were allowed to hear cases for debt recovery, where the debt was less than 10 pounds, from 1836 onwards. Further reform of the legal system saw the establishment of a Court of Request in Perth and other towns and places appointed by the Governor, in 1842, again for cases where the sums involved were less than 10 pounds and in 1845 provision was made for the trial of criminal offences, where the death penalty was not involved, at Albany and other 'remote districts'. [4 of 1845].
The Acts relating to Debt recovery were amended in 1863, with the establishment of Local Courts, under local magistrates identified as such under the Magistrates Jurisdiction Act of the same year. Clerks and bailiffs were to be appointed for each court and and records of actions taken under the original 1836 and 1842 Acts were to be forwarded to the Supreme Court.
In 1904, Local Courts were established throughout the State at the Governor's decree, and were presided over by a magistrate. Although magistrates were assigned to a court, their jurisdiction was State wide. Courts could be discontinued by the Governor and the records of such courts were to be transferred to another court.
They exercised jurisdiction in civil matters up to a maximum claim of up to $10 000.
The court was administered by a Clerk of Courts who was appointed to sign and issue summonses and warrants, to register records and judgements and to keep minutes and accounts, which were to be audited. Bailiffs were also appointed to assist in the work of the court.
The Local and Petty Courts of the State were amalgamated with the Magistrates Court in May 2005. The amalgamation was the result of a long running review of the Court system based on a 1990 report of the Law Reform Commission and represented a significant change in the administration of justice in Western Australia.
Functions, occupations and activities
Mandates/sources of authority
Magisterial Districts Act 1886, No 50 Vict No. 17 (from 16/8/1886);
Local Courts Act 1904, No 51 of 1904 (from 1/1/1905).
Abolition: 1 May 2005 Courts Legislation Amendments and Repeal Act. Gazette 31 December 2004, p. 7128.