Supreme Court of Norfolk Island

The Supreme Court of Norfolk Island is the superior court for Australian territory of Norfolk Island. It has unlimited jurisdiction within the territory in civil matters and hears the most serious criminal matters.[1] It also has jurisdiction over the Coral Sea Islands Territory.[2] All matters are heard before a single judge, including appeals from the Court of Petty Sessions. In the Australian court hierarchy it is one of eight state and territory Supreme Courts having unlimited jurisdiction in their respective parts of Australia. Appeal lies to the Federal Court of Australia, from which an appeal by special leave can be made to the High Court of Australia.[3]

Supreme Court of Norfolk Island
Established30 May 1957 (1957-05-30)
LocationKingston
Appeals toFederal Court of Australia (Full Court)
Judge term lengthmandatory retirement by age of 70
Number of positions3
Chief Justice of Norfolk Island
CurrentlyAnthony Besanko
Since26 February 2015 (2015-02-26)

History

Prior to 1960 almost all matters were heard by the Chief Magistrate who was also the Administrator. If there was a need for a judge then a person was appointed specifically for that purpose. The first such appointment was Ernest Docker, a judge of the District Court of NSW,[4] who was appointed to hear the trial of Anne Christian who had been charged with infanticide. Before the judge arrived, Thomas Mollett had been charged with the attempted murder of his 18-month-old daughter.[5] In 1908 Hugh Pollock, a Crown Prosecutor from Sydney, was appointed to hear the trial of J F Young for stealing a copper boiler, a relic of HMS Bounty.[6][7]

In 1935 Charles Nobbs sued the Administrator, Charles Pinney, for being wrongly removed as the President of the Executive Council in 1934. William Coyle, a judge of the District Court of NSW, was appointed to hear the case.[8]

The first person to have a standing appointment as a judge in Norfolk Island was ACT Supreme Court Judge, William Simpson in 1953.[9] It is unclear whether he ever heard a case in Norfolk Island.

Establishment

The Court was established by the Norfolk Island Act 1957,[10] and was the 3rd territory supreme court created after the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory (1911) and the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory (1934). The jurisdiction of the Court was to be provided by ordinance, and an appeal was to the High Court of Australia. The Supreme Court Ordinance 1960 (NI), provided that the Supreme Court has the same jurisdiction in relation to Norfolk Island as the ACT Supreme Court has in relation to the ACT,[1] which in turn has the same original jurisdiction, civil and criminal, as the Supreme Court of New South Wales had in relation to NSW immediately before 1 January 1911.[11] The practice and procedure of the Court was also that of the ACT Supreme Court.

It was not until 1960 that the first judge was appointed,[12] Sir Richard Eggleston KC, who was a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and an additional judge of the ACT Supreme Court.[13] The first reported case was Newbery v R in 1965.[14] Henry Newberry was convicted of failing to be enrolled to vote in Norfolk Island Council elections. He challenged his conviction before the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island, arguing that in 1857 Norfolk Island had a constitution and a legislature such that the Crown could not abolish the legislature nor place Norfolk Island under the authority of Australia. Eggleston J considered the constitutional history of Norfolk Island, concluding that the Australian Waste Lands Act 1855 (Imp),[15] authorized any form of government, representative or non-representative, and this included placing Norfolk Island under the authority of Australia.[14] The first appeal to the High Court from the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island was in Sanders v Sanders, a proceeding under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1966 (Cth).[16] The Norfolk Island Act 1957,[10] was the subject of minor amendments in 1963, which included that more than one judge could be appointed to the Court.[17]

Changes from 1979

Changes were introduced by the Norfolk Island Act 1979,[18] which repealed the 1957 Act. The most notable change was that the 1979 Act granted Norfolk Island limited self-government by establishing the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.[19] The "Judicial System" is dealt with in Part VII of the 1979 Act, in which section 52 provided that although the 1957 Act was repealed, the Court continued in existence as "the Superior Court of Record of the Territory",[20] for judges to be appointed by the Governor-General,[21] and that other courts and tribunals for the Territory could be established by or under enactment.[22] One of the changes introduced in 1979 was that the Court could sit outside of Norfolk Island, empowering the Governor-General to make regulations:

"(a) making provision for and in relation to sittings of the Supreme Court in a State or in a Territory other than Norfolk Island for the purpose of hearing and determining a matter, otherwise than in the exercise of its criminal jurisdiction, if a Judge is satisfied that the hearing of the matter outside the Territory is not contrary to the interests of justice..."[23]

Practice and procedure

Under the 1979 Act the jurisdiction, practice and procedure of the Supreme Court shall be as provided under "enactment",[24] a term which includes any "Ordinance continued in force by (the 1979) Act".[25] One such ordinance is the Supreme Court Ordinance 1960, now the Supreme Court Act 1960 (NI), which set out that the practice and procedure of the Court was that of the ACT Supreme Court.

Jurisdiction

The Court deals with matters arising under specific Norfolk Island laws such as Probate and Administration of Deceased estates;[26] serious indictable offences and crimes;[27] Bail on serious offences;[28] and registration of Maintenance Orders made by foreign courts (not Australian Child Support assessments);[29] and exercises federal jurisdiction for those Australian federal laws that are expressed to apply to the Territory of Norfolk Island.[30] Foreign Judgements may be registered in the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island since the Foreign Judgments Act 1991 (Cth) is expressed to apply to all external Territories of Australia (of which Norfolk Island is one).[31]

In a practical sense its civil and commercial jurisdiction commences at claims that cannot be dealt with by the Court of Petty Sessions for Norfolk Island which deals with small claims and claims under $A10,000.

According to section 8 of the Coral Sea Islands Act 1969, "the courts of Norfolk Island" have jurisdiction "in and in relation to" the Coral Sea Islands Territory. The Supreme Court thus constitutes the superior court of the Coral Sea Islands. Jurisdiction is unlimited except for matters relating to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.[2]

Location of Sittings

The Supreme Court may, if appropriate, sit in civil cases in New South Wales, Victoria or the ACT as well as in the Territory, but criminal cases must be dealt with in the Territory.[32]

An appeal lies from the Supreme Court to a full court of the Federal Court.[33]

The Supreme Court of Norfolk Island still relies upon the Supreme Court Act 1960 (Norfolk Island) – formerly the Supreme Court Ordinance 1960 – and relies for its Rules of Court and Procedure on the Rules of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory until such time as the Norfolk Island Court decides to make any specific Supreme Court Rule on a particular matter or topic.

Judges

The Judges of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island are generally appointed from among Justices of the Federal Court who may sit on the Australian mainland or they may convene the court on Norfolk Island depending on the type of matter they may be dealing with.

Supreme Court sittings are generally conducted on a circuit court basis with Judges attending on Norfolk Island where the volume of work may be sufficient to justify the travel or where a regular court sitting has not been convened for some time or where the law governing a particular matter may require that the court be convened on Norfolk Island and not elsewhere (e.g. most criminal law matters except sexual offences which may now be tried off-island).

The Court staff are generally resident on Norfolk Island.

List of Judges (including Chief Justices)
Position Name Appointment
commenced
Appointment
ended
Term Comments Notes
Chief Judge Russell Fox AC, QC 22 January 1982 31 March 1989 7 years, 68 days Federal Court [34]
Trevor Morling 9 May 1989 1 February 1993 3 years, 268 days years Federal Court [35]
Chief Justice Bryan Beaumont AO 6 July 1993 2 August 2004 11 years, 27 days Federal Court [36]
Mark Weinberg 16 December 2004 19 July 2008 3 years, 216 days Federal Court
ACT Supreme Court
[36]
Peter Jacobson 12 December 2008 25 January 2015 6 years, 44 days Federal Court [36]
Anthony Besanko 26 February 2015 4 years, 293 days Federal Court
ACT Supreme Court
[37]
Judge Sir Richard Eggleston KC 27 October 1960 1969 8–9 years Commonwealth Industrial Court (1960–1974)
ACT Supreme Court (1960–1974)
[38]
Sir Percy Joske CMG 10 December 1965 31 December 1977 12 years, 21 days Commonwealth Industrial Court (1960–1977)
ACT Supreme Court (1960–1977)
NT Supreme Court (1961–1977)
[39]
Edward Dunphy KC 17 March 1969 31 December 1982 13 years, 289 days Commonwealth Industrial Court (1956–1982)
ACT Supreme Court (1958–1982)
Supreme Court of Christmas Island (1961–1982)
Supreme Court of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (1961–1982)
Court of Appeal of Nauru (1967–1982)
[40]
Robert St John 2 August 1978 31 March 1985 6 years, 241 days Federal Court
Australian Industrial Court
ACT Supreme Court
NT Supreme Court
[41]
Phillip Evatt DSC 11 February 1981 28 February 1987 6 years, 4 days Federal Court [42]
Trevor Morling QC 8 March 1984 1 February 1993 8 years, 330 days Federal Court [43]
Murray Wilcox AO, QC 6 July 1993 2 October 2006 13 years, 88 days Chief Justice of Industrial Relations Court
Federal Court
ACT Supreme Court
Bryan Beaumont AO 1989 2004 14–15 years Federal Court
Susan Kiefel AC 16 December 2004 3 September 2007 2 years, 261 days Federal Court
Peter Jacobson 28 June 2007 25 January 2015 7 years, 211 days Federal Court
Garry Downes AM 10 April 2008 15 May 2012 4 years, 35 days Federal Court
Bruce Lander 12 December 2008 31 August 2013 4 years, 262 days Federal Court
ACT Supreme Court
Robert Buchanan QC 2013 10 September 2016 2–3 years Federal Court
Anthony Besanko 5 August 2013 6 years, 133 days Federal Court
ACT Supreme Court
[44]
John Gilmour 26 February 2015 4 years, 293 days Federal Court [37]
Michael Wigney 15 June 2017 2 years, 184 days Federal Court
ACT Supreme Court
[45]

References

  1. Supreme Court Act 1960 (NI) s 5 Jurisdiction of Supreme Court.
  2. Coral Sea Islands Act 1969 (Cth) s 8 Courts having jurisdiction in the Territory
  3. Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) s 35A
  4. Woodman, S. J. (1981). "Docker, Ernest Brougham (1842–1923)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 8. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  5. "Norfolk Island: Judge Docker's mission". The Daily Telegraph. 26 June 1894. p. 3. Retrieved 11 June 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "A judge for Norfolk Island". The Australian Star. 1 October 1908. p. 1. Retrieved 11 June 2018 via National Library of Australia. "A visit to Norfolk Island". Clarence and Richmond Examiner. 12 December 1908. p. 3. Retrieved 11 June 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "Unique demonstration". The Australian Star. 26 October 1908. p. 5. Retrieved 28 February 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "Administrator in case: Judge for Norfolk Island". Northern Star. 19 July 1935. p. 13. Retrieved 11 June 2018 via National Library of Australia. "To hear one case: Judge's trip to Norfolk Island". The Daily Telegraph. New South Wales, Australia. 19 July 1935. p. 10. Retrieved 11 June 2018 via National Library of Australia. "Norfolk Island. Administrator sued. Illegal Meeting of Council". The Canberra Times. 24 August 1935. p. 1. Retrieved 11 June 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "Territory of Norfolk Island". Australian Government Gazette (9). 12 February 1953. p. 351. Retrieved 11 June 2018 via National Library of Australia.
    "Norfolk Island Judge". The Canberra Times. 13 February 1953. p. 4. Retrieved 11 June 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  10. Norfolk Island Act 1957 (Cth) Part V The Judicial System.
  11. Supreme Court Act 1933 (ACT)
  12. "Ceremonial sitting to mark the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island" (PDF). Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly. 27 October 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  13. "Appointment of the Honourable Richard Moulton Eggleston as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island" (PDF). Cth Gazette. 1 December 1960. p. 4133.
  14. Newbery v R (1965) 7 FLR 34 (25 March 1965), Supreme Court (Norfolk Island), Australia).
  15. Australian Waste Lands Act 1855 (PDF) (Imp).
  16. Sanders v Sanders [1967] HCA 33, (1967) 116 CLR 366 (16 October 1967), High Court (Australia).
  17. Norfolk Island Act 1963 (Cth).
  18. Norfolk Island Act 1979 (Cth).
  19. "Norfolk Island Historical Events". Department of the Attorney-General, Australia. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  20. Norfolk Island Act 1979 (Cth) s 52 Constitution of Supreme Court.
  21. Norfolk Island Act 1979 (Cth) s 53 Appointment of Judges.
  22. Norfolk Island Act 1979 (Cth) s 60 Establishment of courts and tribunals.
  23. Norfolk Island Act 1979 (Cth) s 67(1)(a).
  24. Norfolk Island Act 1979 (Cth) s 59 Jurisdiction of Supreme Court.
  25. Norfolk Island Act 1979 (Cth) s 4(1) Interpretation.
  26. Administration and Probate Act 2006 (NI)
  27. Criminal Law Act 1960 (NI) adopting the NSW Crimes Act of 1900.
  28. Bail Act 2005 (NI) s23 Power of Supreme Court to grant bail.
  29. Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act 1960 (NI).
  30. Norfolk Island Act 1979 (Cth) s 18 Application of Commonwealth Acts.
  31. Foreign Judgments Act (Cth) s 4 External Territories.
  32. Norfolk Island Regulations 2017 (Cth) s 7 Supreme Court may sit in a State, the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory.
  33. Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) s 24 Appellate jurisdiction.
  34. "Appointment of Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island" (PDF). Cth Gazette. 17 March 1969. p. 2686.
  35. "Judges appointed". The Canberra Times. 13 May 1989. p. 4. Retrieved 17 October 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  36. "Federal Court of Australia judicial changes the first 30 years (1977-2007)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 February 2017.
  37. "Judicial Appointments for Norfolk Island". Australian Government. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  38. "Appointment of the Honourable Richard Moulton Eggleston as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island" (PDF). Cth Gazette. 1 December 1960. p. 4133.
  39. "Appointment of the Honourable Percy Joske as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island" (PDF). Cth Gazette. 13 January 1966. p. 70.
  40. "Appointment of the Honourable Edward Arthur Dunphy as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island" (PDF). Cth Gazette. 17 March 1969. p. 2686.
  41. "Appointment of the Honourable Robert St John as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island" (PDF). Cth Gazette. 22 August 1978. p. 9.
  42. "Appointment of the Honourable Phillip George Evatt as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island" (PDF). Cth Gazette. 24 February 1981. pp. 2–3.
  43. "Appointment of the Honourable Trevor Morling as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island" (PDF). Cth Gazette. 20 March 1984. p. 1042.
  44. "Federal Court of Australia Annual Report 2013-14" (PDF). Federal Court. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  45. "Federal Court of Australia Annual Report 2016-17" (PDF). Federal Court. Retrieved 6 June 2018.

References

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