Victoria has a number of courts and tribunals. Their role is to interpret the laws, adjudicate disputes and impose penalties on people or organisations that have broken the law.

5.1 Courts

The Victorian court system comprises:

  • the Supreme Court which is the highest court in Victoria, and hears substantial criminal and civil matters. It is divided into the Court of Appeal and the Trial Division;
  • the County Court which deals with middle tier criminal matters and civil disputes;
  • the Magistrates’ Court which handles minor criminal matters and civil disputes up to the value of $100,000;
  • the Children’s Court which deals with matters relating to children and young people; and
  • the Coroners Court which investigates all reportable deaths.

All justices and magistrates are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Government of the day. Justices cannot be removed by the Government; this can only be done by both Houses of the Victorian Parliament sitting as one. The Victorian court system does not operate in isolation from the Federal Court system. Appeals on Supreme Court determinations can be made to the High Court of Australia.

Further information: www.courts.vic.gov.au.

5.2 Tribunals

Tribunals are usually less formal than courts and resolve a broad range of disputes. The Victorian tribunals include:

  • the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) which hears and determines disputes, including disputes about the purchase and supply of goods and services, consumer credit, discrimination, and residential and retail tenancies. It also deals with disputes between people and the state or local government in areas such as planning and business licensing. VCAT decisions can be appealed to the Supreme Court but only on questions of law.
  • the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal which provides assistance to victims of violent crime, where the crime occurred in Victoria.

Further information: www.courts.vic.gov.au.

5.3 Criminal Justice System

The courts and tribunals 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.

Further information: www.opp.vic.gov.au, www.police.vic.gov.au.