The County Court is the principal trial court in Victoria, sitting above the Magistrates’ Court and below the Supreme Court.
Led by Chief Judge Peter Kidd, our 70 judges hear more than 12,000 cases a year across three divisions – Criminal, Commercial and Common Law.
Our judges also sit as the heads of jurisdiction at the Magistrates’ Court, Coroners Court and Children’s Court, and they sit at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal as Vice-Presidents.
Proceedings are open to the public, other than when a judge considers that closing the court is in the interests of justice.
Pursuant to s.18 of the County Court Act 1958, the Court has a Registrar who is responsible for assisting in the administration of the Court. The current Registrar is Katie O'Keeffe. There are also a number of Deputy Registrars who carry out duties pursuant to s.21 of the Act.
We hear all criminal matters except treason and murder and certain other murder-related offences. The broad range of offences we deal with under Victorian and Commonwealth legislation includes serious theft, armed robbery, drug trafficking, sexual offences, fraud and dishonesty offences, culpable driving, serious assault and income and sales tax offences.
All trials are heard before a judge and jury. Twelve jurors are empanelled, although this may increase to 15 for long trials.
The broad ranges of offences dealt with include:
For more information, visit our Criminal Division page.
We hear criminal appeals from the Magistrates’ Court, which take place before a judge alone. A decision is generally final, except when we impose a sentence of imprisonment and the Magistrates’ Court did not impose a sentence of imprisonment. In such a case, the appellant may appeal to the Court of Appeal, so long as leave is granted.
The Court also hears appeals from the Criminal and Family Divisions of the Children’s Court.
Also known as the civil jurisdiction, we have unlimited authority with no monetary cap on damages. Both jurisdictions feature a number of lists – specialist categories of cases that are administered by a judge.
The Commercial Division deals with matters that include debt recovery, contract, trust and property. It has four lists:
The Common Law Division deals with damages and compensation cases. It consists of eight lists:
All matters are heard by a single judge or, at a party’s request, a judge and jury.
In addition to proceedings in Melbourne, judges go 'on circuit' throughout the year to hear cases in 11 regional Victorian centres – Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Horsham, Mildura, Morwell, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga.
These courts cover the entire County Court jurisdiction and continue our mission to provide accessible and affordable justice to all Victorians.
For more information, visit the County Court circuit page.
Established in 2008, the County Koori Court encourages more participation from the Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Court's sentencing process. This is achieved with the help of Aboriginal Elders and other Respected Persons. The County Koori Court respects Koori culture and uses less formal processes than the mainstream County Court. It sits in Melbourne, the Latrobe Valley, Mildura, Shepparton and Warrnambool.
For more information, visit the County Koori Court page.
The Court makes orders relating to adoption matters in Victoria. About 80 matters are heard each year.
For more information, visit the adoption and parentage page.