The Supreme Court is the State's highest court, with responsibility for both criminal and civil matters. It is also the State's main appeal court. The Supreme Court is divided into two divisions - the General Division and the Court of Appeal.
The General Division deals with very serious criminal charges, such as murder, armed robbery, arson and serious breaches of Commonwealth drug enforcement laws. This division also hears appeals from decisions of magistrates sitting in criminal matters in the Magistrates Court.
Generally, it hears civil cases where the amount involved in the dispute is more than $750,000.
The General Division also deals with probate (including disputes over wills), Admiralty (disputes involving ships), disputed elections and applications under the Corporations Act.
The Court of Appeal hears appeals from single judge decisions of the Supreme Court and from lower courts and various tribunals.
The Supreme Court is composed of the Chief Justice of Western Australia, 19 Judges, one Master, the Principal Registrar and eight Registrars.
The Master, who deals only with civil matters, is also a judicial officer. He hears interlocutory (preliminary) matters prior to trial. He also hears corporation applications and applications assigned to him from the Court's civil list.
Registrars are also engaged in pre-trial work and are responsible for case management. A civil action which is commenced in the Supreme Court is managed by a Registrar, unless it is entered into the Commercial and Managed Cases List in which case it is managed by a Judge. Some Registrars are qualified as mediators and mediate matters when ordered by the Court. Registrars are also taxing officers and make rulings on matters about costs.Last updated: 12-Feb-2013