The participating courts of the Authority are the Supreme Court, District Court, Magistrates Court, Youth Court, Coroner’s Court and the Environment, Resources and Development Court. There are also a number of tribunals and commissions.

Civil and criminal matters are heard in the Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts, with the more serious matters being heard in the Supreme and District courts. Only the Supreme Court can hear cases involving murder and treason.

The Youth Court hears cases concerning children (up to the age of 18 years).

The Coroner’s Court investigates the circumstances surrounding deaths and disappearances.

The Environment, Resources and Development Court, as its name suggests, principally hears cases about building and development matters, pollution and the natural environment.


The Supreme Court of South Australia is the superior court of the State and is a court of both law and equity. It deals with the more important civil cases and the most serious criminal matters.

The Supreme Court of Appeal reviews and determines errors which may have occurred in other courts of the State and interprets and expounds the law for the guidance of other courts.

The Supreme Court is on the corner of Gouger and King William Streets, Adelaide. The Supreme Court buildings house judges’ chambers, the Court Library Service, the Probate Registry, and various civil court rooms. However, as there are no holding cells in these buildings, most criminal cases are now held in the Sir Samuel Way Building. The court, constituted by a judge, conducts circuit sessions in both Mount Gambier and Port Augusta, several times a year.

The Supreme Court civil and criminal registries are located in the Sir Samuel Way Building at 241- 259 Victoria Square, Adelaide.

The District Court is the principal trial court in South Australia. The Court’s work covers four jurisdictions:

The Court sits in Adelaide and conducts circuits at:

  • Mount Gambier (civil and criminal)
  • Port Augusta (civil and criminal)
  • Berri (civil)
  • Port Pirie (civil)
  • Whyalla (civil)
  • Port Lincoln (civil)

The Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court is a specialist court dealing with disputes, and enforcement of laws relating to the development and management of land, the natural and built environment and natural resources.

The Court predominately sits in Adelaide. In some circumstances the Court will sit elsewhere.
Many people who appear in the Court are self-represented.

The ERD Court was established by the Environment, Resources and Development Court Act  in 1993. It has jurisdiction under a wide range of legislation including:

Additional links

The Magistrates Court of South Australia is established by the Magistrates Court Act 1991. It handles the greatest proportion of litigation in the State. All criminal matters begin in the Magistrates Court and the civil jurisdiction hears approximately 80% of all disputes within the State.

The court is divided into the following divisions:

  • Civil (General Claims) Division;
  • Civil (Minor Claims) Division;
  • Civil (Consumer and Business) Division;
  • Criminal Division;
  • Nunga Court Division;
  • Petty Sessions Division

A Magistrate usually presides over the court. The business office of the court is known as the registry.

The court sits in Adelaide and in various key locations around the State. See Court Locations for further information.

Additional links

The first separate Youth or Children’s Court in South Australia was established under the provisions of the State Children’s Act 1895 which called for a separate room to be used for hearings or trials which involved children.

The Youth Court of South Australia was established under the Youth Court Act 1993 and hears matters in relation to criminal offending, child protection , adoption and surrogacy. It is made up of two branches – the Court (including the Registry) and the Conferencing Unit. The Court is presided over by the Judge and the two units are administered by the manager of each branch.

All Youth Court hearings are closed to the public. The Youth Court Act 1993 states that the only persons allowed into court are:

  • Officers of the court
  • Officers of the Department of Human Services
  • Parties to the proceedings and their legal representatives
  • Witnesses while giving evidence
  • A guardian of the child
  • An alleged victim
  • A genuine representative of the news media

Although the media are allowed into court, the Youth Court Act 1993 restricts reports of the proceedings so that nothing may be published which may lead to the identification of the youth. Youth Court criminal hearings are also conducted in metropolitan Courts (Elizabeth, Port Adelaide, Christies Beach) and regional courts.

The Conferencing Unit conducts Family Conferences for young offenders and Family Group Conferences for children the subject of care and protection matters. Family Conferences and Family Group Conferences are conducted throughout the State.

See Court Locations for more information.

Additional links

The Coroner’s Office provide a broad range of services to the community by recognising the need to assist bereaved families to understand the coronial investigation process.

The cornerstone of coronial inquiry is to provide a thorough and impartial service to the community when investigating the circumstances in which people die.

See Court Locations for further information

The Warden’s court was established to deal with issues and disputes related to mining claims.

The function of the Warden’s Court

The Warden’s Court function include:

  • Determine civil suits between miners that relate to mining tenements
  • Consider applications by miners for relief from statutory obligations
  • Determine the validity of mining tenements and their boundaries
  • Adjudicate in matters where landowners object to entry by miners because mining operations on their land will create hardship
  • Make recommendations about the revocation and variation of private mines
  • Hear applications brought by the Director of Mines

Commence an action

All actions are commenced by filing a Plaint Note with the Warden’s Court Registry in Adelaide and paying the prescribed fee.

What happens once and application is filed?

As section 67(3) of the Mining Act gives the Director of Mines the right to appear in any proceedings before the Warden’s Court and a copy of each application is sent to the Director of Mines.

All matters are listed for a preliminary hearing. The registry will provide you with a date and time of the hearing. If you cannot attend you can ask the registry if the Warden will let you attend by telephone.

The preliminary hearing is fairly informal. At the hearing the Warden may make initial orders such as the serving of notices, requiring exchange of information, suggest settlement discussions and may fix a date for the trial of the matter.

The further evidence may be by affidavit and any submissions may be in writing. In certain cases the Warden will indicate that he is not prepared to accept evidence by affidavit at all, and requires the attendance of the applicant in Court.

Getting assistance

The registry will assist in explaining the practices and procedures of the Court but cannot provide legal advice, or help individuals prepare or present cases. If you need legal advice you will need to contact a lawyer.

Legal representation

Yes you can have a lawyer but you can appear without a lawyer. If you decide not to have a lawyer at the preliminary hearing you can instruct a lawyer after that if you then decide that you need one.

Presenting evidence

The plaint should generally be supported by brief facts set out in the form of an affidavit on the back of the plaint. If an applicant prefers to present his evidence in person rather than by affidavit he is entitled to do so.

To make it easy to deal with some applications there are special provisions in the Warden’s Court Rules to allow the Court, at its discretion, to accept evidence by affidavit. This enables the Court to deal with routine matters, such as an application to suspend labour conditions, without the necessity of attendance by the applicant.

Affidavits are not usually accepted in contested cases where a witness must be available for cross-examination. Swearing a false affidavit carries the same penalty as giving false evidence in the witness box.

Appealing a decision

An appeal against any judgment or order of the Court can be made to the Environment, Resources and Development Court within 28 days from the date of the judgment.

Additional links