Courts Tasmania

Origins of the Supreme Court of Tasmania

Charter of Justice

The judicial system of Tasmania may be said to derive from the Imperial Act, 9 Geo IV, c83, and the Charter of Justice, granted pursuant thereto, although such were not the earliest provisions for courts of judicature in the Colony.

An earlier Imperial Act, 4 Geo IV, c96, since repealed, had empowered His Majesty, as a temporary measure, to institute a court of judicature in Van Diemen's Land to be styled the Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land. And by Royal Letters Patent, of 13 October 1823, His Majesty had, accordingly, instituted a Supreme Court, which commenced its activities on 10 May 1824.

The Imperial Warrant of 18 August 1823, for the institution of the Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land, may be found reprinted in "Historical Records of Australia", Series III, Vol IV, pp478-490. The Royal Letters Patent of 13 October 1823, prepared under that Warrant, and which constituted the first Charter of Justice for Tasmania, are preserved in the Archives Office of Tasmania. A copy of the Charter was presented to the Supreme Court by the Law Society on the occasion of the Court's 150th Anniversary. The framed copy hangs on the wall of the foyer area of the Civil Court building in Hobart.

See Timeline - Charters of Justice - Van Diemen's Land for significant dates relating to the Charters of Justice.

Separation and independence of Van Diemen's Land

The Imperial Act, 4 Geo IV, c96 had also, by s44, empowered His Majesty to constitute and erect the Island of Van Diemen's Land into a separate Colony independent of New South Wales.

By an Imperial Order-in-Council of 14 June 1825, the separation and independence of Van Diemen's Land was declared. And on 3 December 1825, Governor Darling, the Governor-in-Chief, calling at Hobart Town, on his way to take up his appointment in Sydney, had proclaimed the separate existence of Van Diemen's Land as a Colony independent of New South Wales.