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New South Wales

Significance
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History
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Description
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New South Wales documents
Charter of Justice 2 April 1787 (UK)
Charter of Justice 2 April 1787 (UK), p1
Charter of Justice 2 April 1787 (UK), p2
Charter of Justice 2 April 1787 (UK), p3
Significance
This document is the authority for the establishment of the first New South Wales Courts of Criminal and Civil Jurisdiction. The Charter of Justice is in the form of Letters Patent providing for a Deputy Judge-Advocate and six court officers to be appointed by the Governor and the establishment of a Civil Court. The Governor was required to give his permission to any death sentence imposed by the Court, and was empowered to give pardons. The Civil Court had the power to deal with disputes over property and had jurisdiction over wills and estates. As the provision for establishing a Civil Court had not been included in the Act there was no legislative basis for its foundation.
History
The New South Wales Court Act 1787 provided for the establishment of the first New South Wales Courts of Criminal and Civil Jurisdiction by executive action, achieved with the issue of these Letters Patent.

Although the British intended to transport English law and legal proceedings along with the convicts, in practice there were significant departures from English law in the new and distant Colony. Notably, the first civil case heard in Australia, in July 1788, was brought by a convict couple. They successfully sued the captain of the ship in which they had been transported, for the loss of a parcel during the voyage. In Britain, as convicts, they would have had no rights to bring this case.
Description
There is a sketch of King George III on the first page and the document also has a decorative border with a navy blue seal running part way down the left border on each page. The three pages are bound together at the bottom with a plaited cord.

This detail shows some of the decorative border on the Charter of Justice.

This detail shows some of the decorative border on the Charter of Justice.

Long Title:New South Wales Charter of Justice, Letters Patent 2 April 1787
No. of pages:3
Medium:Parchment
Measurements:Page 1: 76 x 60.5 cm Page 2: 55 x 74 cm Page 3: 55 x 74 cm
Provenance:British Government
Features:A sketch of King George III is on the first page; decorative border on each page; plaited cord binding with a navy blue seal running part way down the left border of each page
Location & Copyright:State Records New South Wales
Reference:SRNSW: X24