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Supreme Court of Tasmania


The Supreme Court of Tasmania is the oldest Supreme Court in Australia.

The Royal Charter of Justice was read in the market place in Hobart Town on 7 May 1824. The Hobart Town Gazette reported on 14 May 1824 that the Court then sat to administer the oath of office to Attorney-General Gellibrand and to William Sorell as first Registrar of the Court. It also admitted George Cartwright, Hugh Ross and Frederick Dawes as practitioners.

The Hobart Town Gazette published on 28 May 1824 reported that the first prisoner to be tried before the Supreme Court was William Tibbs, who was charged with "shooting at a black man named John Jackson, on the 17 January last, whereby the unfortunate man lost his life". Mr Tibbs was convicted of manslaughter. 

The Court was kept busy in the early years dealing with criminal matters and in the period between 1826 and 1842 a total of 203 criminals were ordered to be hanged.

The Court was first housed in a building on the corner of Murray and Macquarie Streets. Civil and criminal matters were dealt with in the same court complex. However in 1860 the Holy Trinity Church at the junction of Brisbane and Campbell Streets was converted into a criminal court and a new court was opened in the Public Buildings in Macquarie Street for civil cases. The Court was eventually unified again in 1980 when the final phase of the new purpose designed complex was opened at Salamanca Place.

The Court has not been restricted to sitting in Hobart. It has sat regularly in Launceston since in or about the 1850s. The Court has occupied its present site in Cameron Street in Launceston since 1929, although the Launceston District Registry was not opened until 1940.

Sittings of the Supreme Court also began on the north west coast in the nineteenth century. They are now restricted to the Burnie Court House in Alexander Street.