The Judiciary

The Judiciary is made up of several courts and tribunals.

Their role is to:

  • interpret the law
  • adjudicate disputes
  • impose penalties on people or organisations that have broken the law.


The Supreme Court:

  • is the highest court in Victoria
  • is established under the Victorian Constitution
  • hears substantial criminal and civil matters
  • is divided into the Court of Appeal and the Trial Division.

The County Court:

  • is an intermediate court
  • deals with middle-tier criminal matters and civil disputes.

The Magistrates’ Court:

  • deals with most legal disputes
  • handles less serious criminal matters
  • handles civil disputes up to $100,000
  • has specialised courts including the Drug Court and the Koori Court.

The Children’s Court:

  • deals with criminal and other matters relating to children and young people
  • deals with child protection matters.

The Coroners Court

  • investigates all reportable deaths
  • investigates certain fires
  • can make recommendations to prevent similar deaths or fires.

All judges and magistrates are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the government of the day. However, they can’t be removed by the government. They can only be removed by Parliament.

The Victorian court system does not operate in isolation from the Federal Court system. Appeals from Supreme Court decisions can be made to the High Court of Australia.



Tribunals resolve a broad range of disputes. They are usually less formal than courts.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hears and settles disputes on matters including:

  • the purchase and supply of goods and services
  • consumer credit
  • discrimination
  • residential and retail tenancies
  • planning
  • business licensing.

VCAT decisions can be appealed to the Supreme Court of Victoria, but only on questions of law.

The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) provides financial assistance to victims of violent crime committed in Victoria.


Criminal justice system

The courts and VOCAT are part of the criminal justice system. Other public sector bodies within the criminal justice system, such as the Office of Public Prosecutions and Victoria Police, are separate from the judiciary.

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