Overview

We hold a range of case file and administrative records relating to:

  • Supreme Court
  • Probate Registry
  • District Court
  • Magistrate's Court
  • Coroner's Court
  • Insolvency Court
  • Licensing Branch and Court
  • Youth Court
  • Children's Court
  • Warden's Court
  • Industrial Relations Court and
  • Environment, Resources and Development Court.

Access conditions

Records about Supreme, District and Magistrate's court cases are typically restricted for 100 years.

Records of the Coroner's Court are typically restricted for 60 years.

Access conditions for the records of other Courts can be found through series descriptions in ArchivesSearch.

Researchers are able to apply to the relevant court registry for access to restricted records. The Courts Administration Authority has administrative involvement in the operation of the Courts and may sometimes be responsible for determining access.

Researching the records

Finding a court record depends on:

  • knowing which court will have heard the matter
  • the existence of indexes to the relevant court records and
  • any restrictions upon access placed on the records by the court.

Information about specific types of Court records is also at these other pages:

Information about prisoners may be found at these other pages:

  • Police
  • Gaols (including some information about photographs of prisoners)

The South Australian Government Gazettes contain monthly Courts Calendars listing matters to be heard in the courts. The Gazettes are available in our Research Centre, and online access is available via www.governmentgazette.sa.gov.au.

Indexes and special lists

Index book to matters before the Supreme Court, 1841-1988 (GRS 13056)

This index is available in hard copy and may be viewed at our Research Centre.

List of men liable to serve on juries

This list was published in the South Australian Government Gazette on the 30 January 1840. It lists men in the Colony who were liable to serve on juries at that date.

The list is arranged alphabetically by the man's name. It also contains the:

  • street name where they lived
  • their title
  • quality
  • calling or business and
  • the nature of their qualification to serve on the jury.

Special list of men liable to serve on juries, 1840

Digitised records

Criminal record books, chronological series - Supreme Court of South Australia

These court record books were maintained by the judges associate, who was required to record:

  • The day of the week, the date of the month, and the year in which the proceeding is heard
  • The name of the trial Judge
  • The short title of the action showing parties, and
  • The times occupied by the trial.

FamilySearch - Criminal record books - Supreme Court of South Australia, from 1845 (GRS 12820 - Units 1-15, up to 7 Dec 1910)

Types of records

We hold a large collection of Supreme Court records including:

  • case records such as criminal files and civil files
  • lunacy petitions
  • matrimonial petitions (divorces) prior to 1976
  • company petitions
  • revenue petitions and the
  • hearing of insolvency matters.

We also hold District Court records including:

  • criminal case files
  • civil and criminal record books
  • court files
  • Justice’s minute books
  • registers of summons issued, and
  • Appeals Tribunal files.

We also hold Magistrate's Court records including:

  • maintenance orders
  • civil and criminal record books
  • court files
  • Justice’s minute books, and
  • registers of summons issued.

Records held

Use the Direct Search function in search ArchivesSearch  for the agency ID for each of the following Courts:

  • Supreme Court of South Australia - GRG36 and GA445
  • Probate Registry, Supreme Court of South Australia - GA411
  • District Court of South Australia after 1969 - GA1078
  • Local courts before 1969 - search for the name of the local court: e.g. Burra Court (within GRG4).
  • Magistrate’s Court of South Australia - GA2018
  • Adelaide Police Court [criminal] - GRG65
  • Adelaide Local Court [civil] - GA1943 or GRG3
  • State Coroner’s Office - GA371 - see also Attorney-General's Department in GRG1
  • Insolvency Court, Adelaide - GRG66
  • Insolvency Courts, Country Districts -  GRG68
  • Licensing Branch and Court - GRG67
  • Youth Court of South Australia - GA1076
  • Children’s Court of South Australia - GA1811
  • Industrial Court, from 1994 Industrial Relations Court - GA338
  • Environment, Resources and Development Court - GA 2413
  • Courts Administration Authority - GA736

Key facts

Prior to the departure of the first group of colonists from England for Australia, a judge was appointed to the Supreme Court of South Australia. Five days after the proclamation of the colony, on 2 January 1837, the Supreme Court was established.

A comprehensive legal system for the State developed, evidenced in the records held by State Records of South Australia relating to its operation. For a more detailed history of the courts see: www.courts.sa.gov.au.

Prior to the establishment of the District Court in 1969, matters were heard by the Local Court (summary and minor matters) or by the Supreme Court (all other matters). 

GRG 38/68, unit 24, item HD 1855 - Plans of public buildings, 'Historic Drawing' series ('HD') plans - Colonial  Architect's Department and successors

The Industrial Relations Court was established in 1994. It is responsible for:

  • interpreting awards and enterprise agreements and
  • deciding questions of industrial law.

The Environment, Resources and Development Court was established in 1993. It is a specialist court dealing with disputes, and law enforcement relating to the:

  • development and management of land
  • natural and built environment and
  • natural resources.

From 1837 the South Australian government licensed the sale of alcoholic beverages. This function was originally carried out by the Licensing Benches and was transferred to the Licensing Court in 1967, which closed in 1976. See J L (Bob) Hoad, Hotels and Publicans in South Australia, 1999. A copy is available in the Research Centre.

The Supreme Court of South Australia was established as a Court of Insolvency in 1841. The Insolvency Court heard and adjudicated matters when an individual became financially insolvent/bankrupt and still owed money to his/her creditors. Bankruptcy became a federal function with the passage in 1928 of the Bankruptcy Act (Commonwealth).

The Supreme Court of South Australia has exclusive jurisdiction in South Australia to make orders in relation to the:

  • validity of a will of a deceased person
  • appointment of an executor or an administrator and
  • administration of a deceased estate.

The Probate Registry:

  • deals with applications for grants of probate or administration and other related matters, and
  • keeps a register of probates and administrations granted by the Court.

The Youth Court was established in 1895. Holdings include adoption and case files. For Adelaide adoptions refer to the Children’s Court, and for country adoptions search by the name of the Local Court in the area.

The Warden’s Court was established in 1971. It hears and adjudicates matters relating to mining legislation.

The current iteration of the Coroner’s Court was established in 2003. It is responsible for investigating deaths considered unusual or suspicious.

The Courts Administration Authority was established in 1992, and is the collective term for the State Courts Administration Council, the State Courts Administrator, and staff of the Council.