A judge was appointed to the Supreme Court of South Australia before the first group of colonists departed from England for Australia.

  • The Supreme Court was established 5 days after the proclamation of the colony on 2 January 1837. For a more detailed history of the courts see: www.courts.sa.gov.au.
  • The District Court  was established in 1969.  Before this matters were heard by the Local Court (summary and minor matters) or by the Supreme Court (all other matters).
  • The Industrial Relations Court was established in 1994. It is responsible for interpreting awards and enterprise agreements and deciding questions of industrial law.
  • The Environment, Resources and Development Court was established in 1993. It is a specialist court dealing with disputes, and law enforcement relating to the development and management of land, natural and built environment and natural resources.

From 1837 the South Australian government licensed the sale of alcoholic beverages. This function was originally carried out by the Licensing Benches and was transferred to the Licensing Court in 1967, which closed in 1976. See J L (Bob) Hoad, Hotels and Publicans in South Australia, 1999. A copy is available in the Research Centre.

  • The Youth Court was established in 1895. Holdings include adoption and case files. For Adelaide adoptions refer to the Children’s Court, and for country adoptions search by the name of the Local Court in the area.
  • The Courts Administration Authority was established in 1992 and is the collective term for the State Courts Administration Council, the State Courts Administrator and staff of the Council.

We hold a range of case file and administrative records relating to a variety of Courts, including but not limited to Supreme Court, Probate Registry, District Court, Magistrate's Court, Coroner's Court and Insolvency Court.

Access conditions

Records about Supreme, District and Magistrate's court cases are restricted for 100 years. Records of the Coroner's Court are restricted for 60 years.

Access conditions for the records of other Courts can be found through series descriptions in ArchivesSearch.

You can apply to the relevant court registry for  access to restricted records. The Courts Administration Authority has administrative involvement in the operation of the Courts and may sometimes be responsible for determining access.

Researching the records

Finding a court record depends on:

  • knowing which court will have heard the matter
  • the existence of indexes to the relevant court records and
  • any restrictions upon access placed on the records by the court.

Information about specific types of Court records is also available at:

The South Australian Government Gazettes contain monthly Courts Calendars listing matters to be heard in the courts. The Gazettes are available in our Research Centre, and online access is available via www.governmentgazette.sa.gov.au.

Indexes and Digitised Records

This index is available in hard copy and may be viewed at our Research Centre.

This list was published in the South Australian Government Gazette on the 30 January 1840. It lists men in the Colony who were liable to serve on juries at that date.

The list is arranged alphabetically by the man's name. It also contains the street name where they lived, their title, quality, calling or business and the nature of their qualification to serve on the jury.

Index of men liable to serve on juries, 1840

These court record books were maintained by the judges associate, who was required to record:

  • The day of the week, the date of the month, and the year in which the proceeding is heard
  • The name of the trial Judge
  • The short title of the action showing parties, and
  • The times occupied by the trial.

Digitised records on FamilySearch - Criminal record books - Supreme Court of South Australia, from 1845 (GRS 12820 - Units 1-15, up to 7 Dec 1910)

Digitised records on FamilySearch - Criminal record books, chronological series - Supreme Court, 1842-1844 (GRS 13039)

Page last updated: 7 September 2022