Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 55(II) - Courts of petty sessions: constitution, powers and procedure

Project No. 55(II)

Commenced: 1974
Completed: 1986

For a number of years, the Commission had been examining this reference alongside its corresponding review of the Local Courts Act 1904 (WA) and the Local Court Rules 1961 (WA) (see Project No. 16(I). These parallel references constituted a comprehensive review of the inferior courts system in Western Australia. Because of its size, this reference was divided into three parts. In Part II of the reference, the Commission examined the role of Justices of the Peace, the constitution, powers and procedures of the Courts of Petty Sessions, orders to keep the peace and the position of unrepresented defendants.

Terms of Reference

In 1974 the Commission received a general reference to review the Justices Act 1902 (WA), which regulates the procedure of the Courts of Petty Sessions.


The Commission’s primary recommendations were considered in a 1997 Ministry of Justice report on the Amalgamation of Courts of Summary Jurisdiction. The Ministry of Justice report analysed the current structure and jurisdiction of the lower courts, examined the Commission’s recommendations and considered the situation in other Australian jurisdictions where similar legislation has been enacted. This report recognised the widespread support for a proposed merger of Local Courts and Courts of Petty Sessions and contained proposals for the introduction of legislation to implement the Commission’s recommendations.

By virtue of the Courts Legislation Amendment and Appeal Act 2004 (WA), the Magistrates Court Act 2004 (WA) and the Magistrates Court (Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 (WA), the local courts and the courts of petty session have now been amalgamated as the Magistrates Court.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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