175th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Victoria

Judging for the People

A special landmark publication celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Court, 'Judging for the People: A social history of the Supreme Court of Victoria 1841-2016', was launched on 12 April 2016.

Commissioned by Chief Justice Warren, the book was produced as a collaboration between the Supreme Court of Victoria and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. Accomplished scholars, historians and members of the Victorian Bar are some of the many contributing authors in the book.

Copies of the book can be ordered from the Supreme Court Library, please phone 03 9603 6282 for more information.

Our history

April 2016 is a special month in our history, as it marks the 175th anniversary of the arrival of Judge John Walpole Willis as its first resident Supreme Court judge in 1841.

Judge Willis took his place on the Bench in a cottage located in King Street on 12 April 1841. He quickly got to work hearing commercial cases, equity matters and serious criminal matters.

Among the first cases he heard in Victoria was the resolution of John Batman's Will.

Following disputes about his authority in 1843, Judge Willis left the colony where he was followed in quick succession by Judges Thierry and Jeffcott, until William a'Beckett, a barrister of the Sydney Bar, came south in 1845.

The Court celebrates 175 years

To mark this occasion the Court has organised a range of activities throughout the year aimed at highlighting our rich history and heritage.

A special 175 exhibition showcases a range of artefacts spanning the entire history of the Court, highlighting some of its most significant cases and characters. The exhibition, held in the Supreme Court Library, is open to the public until the end of July 2016.

Also from 12 April, the Supreme Court building will come to life after dark. Upon its completion in 1884, the magnificent building was a focal point in the city of Melbourne. More than 100 years on and today dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers, the grand heritage-listed Trial Division building will once again be a draw card when it is alight in bright and magnificent hues. A fitting tribute to the Court's contribution to the rule of law and the state of Victoria in its 175 year history.

Follow the celebrations via Twitter (External link) and Facebook (External link) with #SCV175.

The Court alight in bright and magnificent hues

ABOVE: The Court alight in bright and magnificent hues.

A special 175 exhibition showcases a range of artefacts spanning the entire history of the Court

ABOVE: A special 175 exhibition showcases a range of artefacts spanning the entire history of the Court.