The Supreme Court of Victoria is the superior court in Victoria. The court is divided into two divisions - the Court of Appeal and the Trial Division.
The Supreme Court hears and decides criminal trials, civil matters and appeals from inferior jurisdictions including the Children’s Court. See Supreme Court of Victoria website.
In its criminal jurisdiction, the Supreme Court is empowered to hear all indictable offences. It is the only Victorian court that has the power to hear the offences of treason and murder. All other indictable offences may also be heard by the County Court.
The civil jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is unlimited, in that the amount of money which may be claimed is unlimited, as is the subject matter of the disputes which the court may determine.
In the trial division of the court, cases can be heard by a judge or by a judge and jury.
- The Supreme Court hears appeals from civil orders and criminal convictions made in the Magistrates’ Court.
- The Court of Appeal may hear appeals from a decision of a single judge of either the trial division of the Supreme Court or the County Court.
- The High Court of Australia has jurisdiction to hear appeals from the Court of Appeal, but only after the High Court has granted leave to appeal.
For further information on trials and appeals go to the Law Institute of Victoria website.
The Secretary to the Department of Health and Human Services, a child subject of an order or application, and others as specified in the CYFA may appeal a decision of the Children's Court to the Supreme Court in the following situations:
- When the Children’s Court was constituted by the President and the appeal is against a final order described in s. 328 of the CYFA.
- When the appeal relates to a question of law, and is against a final order of the Court however constituted (s. 329).
- If a question of law arises in a proceeding before the Court, the Court of it’s own motion or on application of any party may with the consent of the President, reserve the question in the form of a special case stated for the opinion of the Supreme Court (s. 533).
- When appealing an interim accommodation order (s.271).
If an appeal is being considered by a division, the area executive director will consult with the director, families and children, legal services (manager CPLO) and seek written approval from the chief practitioner, office of professional practice. The Deputy Secretary in the operational division endorses the decision to appeal.
Child protection practitioners are to advise their supervisor, team manager and to contact the Child Protection Litigation Office as soon as possible after receiving a notice of appeal. In rural areas, the divisional solicitor will also be advised.
Appeals made to the Supreme Court of Victoria can only be made by the Secretary of the department through an authorised delegate. The Supreme Court is a highly technical jurisdiction and it is crucial that proper procedures and lines of delegation are adhered to.