The Queensland Supreme Court
The Queensland Supreme Court is the highest court in Queensland. It is located at 415 George Street, Brisbane and also sits at 11 regional courthouses around the state. The Queensland Supreme Court is presided over by a judge.
Decisions made by the Supreme Court can be appealed to the High Court of Australia; however, special leave to appeal is required for this to occur.
The Queensland Supreme Court is governed by the Supreme Court Act 1991.
The Trial Division of the Queensland Supreme Court hears serious criminal matters such as murder, manslaughter and serious drug offences. It also deals with civil matters where the amount in dispute is more than $750,000, wills and probate matters and matters arising from the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
Serious criminal matters begin in the Magistrates Court or Children’s Court and proceed through a committal before being transferred to the Supreme Court for a trial by judge and jury or for sentencing in front of a judge. Criminal trials are decided by a jury of 12 people selected at random from the electoral roll. The jury decides questions of fact and the judge decides questions of law.
Civil cases begin in the Supreme Court. Civil trials are generally decided by a judge alone. However, occasionally a civil trial will be decided by a jury composed of four jurors who will decide questions of fact.
The Supreme Court also decides application for bail.
The Queensland Supreme Court deals with grants of probate and other grants that are sought by a person wanting to administer a deceased estate.
There are three types of grants that the Queensland Supreme Court deals with. These are:
Grant of probate
A grant of probate is a legal document that gives an executor the authority to deal with the assets of a deceased person. This may be necessary in order to take control of the assets and distribute them among the beneficiaries.
This grant is sought when a valid will exists and names an executor.
Grants of letters of administration
This grant is sought when a valid will exists but the person who is seeking the grant is not named as an executor in the will.
Grant of letters of administration on intestacy
This grant is sought when no valid will exists.
Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal hears appeals against decisions by the Trial Division of the Supreme Court and against decisions of the District Court. It also has the power to hear appeals from a number of Queensland tribunals.
The Court of Appeal is constituted by three or five judges of the Supreme Court. The judges listen to submissions from both parties and decide whether an error of law was made or a fact was overlooked by the original decision-maker.
The Court of Appeal can:
- dismiss the appeal and uphold the original decision;
- allow the appeal, set aside the original decision and make a different order in its place or order a retrial.
If you are initiating a matter in the Supreme Court it is likely that there will be an associated filing fee. This fee will have to be paid when the initiating documents are filed.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty, you may be able to have the filing fee waived on this basis. You will need to supply proof of this (such as a healthcare card) to the court.
Attending the Supreme Court
If you are required to attend the Queensland Supreme Court in relation to a matter, it is important that you observe court etiquette. Arrive at court well before the time your matter is due to be heard and check with the Registry Office as to which courtroom you need to go to.
You should dress neatly and formally and ensure you are not wearing a hat or sunglasses before you enter the courtroom. Make sure your phone is switched off or on silent. Bow when you enter the courtroom and address the judge as “Your Honour”.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.