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WA criminal court shortages causing ‘great strain’ to community

The Western Australian Law Society has called on the government to urgently provide more criminal courts across the state to relieve the “great strain” on the system.

user iconNaomi Neilson 26 April 2021 Big Law
WA criminal court shortages
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The Law Society has raised its concerns about the court shortages with the state’s Attorney-General John Quigley, claiming that the operation of the justice system has become “almost unworkable”. It has asked that the government urgently commit to an additional four, but preferably seven, new courts for criminal trials in Perth. 

President Jocelyn Boujos said that when the David Malcolm Justice Centre was built, it was designed solely to deal with civil cases and this restriction on criminal cases has meant that they are not dealt with quickly and has caused great strain. 

“The Law Society is seeking a rapid and significant investment by the McGowan government to ensure the criminal justice system runs smoothly, so that our community is delivered a fair and just system,” Ms Boujos said. 


The Supreme Court of Western Australia has been using a number of courtrooms in the District Court on a regular basis for the last few years and while this has worked to a “limited degree”, the coronavirus pandemic has made it unworkable. 

Ms Boujos said the rate at which the Supreme Court uses the District Court has been increasing. In March 2021, there were six Supreme Court trials being conducted in the building, most of which had multiple defendants and were lengthy.

At the same time, the increase in civil matters in the District Court has meant that it is in need of all courtrooms at all times to manage their jurisdiction.

Further, the nature of the prosecutions – from historical sex cases, cold cases and significant improvements in forensic investigative techniques – has placed greater demands for interlocutory hearings and larger trials and an increase in workloads. Ultimately, trials and more complex courtrooms are utilised for longer. 

“Essentially, the system is overloaded and under great strain due to the limited infrastructure available at present and needs a rapid and significant investment by the McGowan government,” Ms Boujos said. 

“These new courtrooms are an urgent community need, which is intrinsically linked to proper and timely administration of justice.”