Last Updated 19 December 2016

The Supreme Court is governed by the Supreme Court of Queensland Act 1991 (Qld). It is the superior court in the Queensland legal system and sits in Brisbane, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns, as well as on circuit in Longreach, Mackay, Maryborough and various other locations.

The Supreme Court is also constituted by one judge sitting alone, although in some civil and almost all criminal proceedings, a jury is involved.

The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear all cases necessary for the administration of justice in Queensland. In other words, the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to hear all matters relating to Queensland law including those that fall within the District and Magistrates courts’ jurisdiction. In reality, the Supreme Court exercises a much more limited jurisdiction.

Criminal jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has jurisdiction in respect to all criminal offences in Queensland. However, the court only hears those indictable offences that cannot be heard in the Magistrates or District Court (usually offences where the penalty is greater than 20 years imprisonment or which otherwise cannot be heard in the District Court). Trials in the Supreme Court are permitted to be heard by a judge alone in certain circumstances (s 614 Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld)).

Civil jurisdiction

The Supreme Court can hear civil cases involving unlimited amounts of money and property. However, it can remit matters to the District Court if they fall within that court’s jurisdiction. In reality, the Supreme Court will only hear matters where the amount of money or value of property in dispute is in excess of $750 000.