District Court of Western Australia

Notice to Practitioners

Practice Directions (PDs) are issued by the Chief Judge and supplement the procedures set out in the Rules of Court. They impose obligations on the parties and their lawyers.

Circulars to Practitioners (CPs) are issued by the Principal Registrar and provide guidance about the practice of the Court.

The Court has undertaken a review of the form and content of its PDs and CPs and has resolved to:

  1. issue PDs and CPs separately;
  2. restructure each of PDs and CPs into three broad groups: General (applicable to civil and criminal proceedings), Civil (applicable to civil proceedings only) and Criminal (applicable to criminal proceedings only); and
  3. publish, as a separate CP, the 'usual orders' of the Court.

These instruments, together with associated forms and annexures, will be available on the Court's website. Any revisions made from time to time will be recorded in a table of amendments.

With the publication of the revised PDs and CPs today, all former practice directions and circulars to practitioners are revoked.


Dated 21 September 2023

Her Honour Judge Julie Wager
Chief Judge of the District Court

Dr Brenda McGivern
Principal Registrar of the District Court

From January 2022, the Court will adopt a Judges’ Criminal List (JCL) on a trial basis. The objects of the JCL are to:

  1. To ensure that non-trial criminal matters are listed as soon as practicable; and

  2. To endeavour to have an offender who breaches a non-custodial order dealt with by the judge who imposed the order.

Matters to be dealt with at a JCL

Breach of non-custodial orders (metropolitan committal)

Where an offender is committed by the Magistrates Court for breach of a non-custodial order, the breach will be brought to the attention of the judge who made the order with a view to it being listed in that judge’s next JCL, the object being to deal with the breach as soon as possible after committal.

Within 14 days of a breach by summary offending being committed, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) must lodge the Statement of Material Facts for the breach offences with the Court.

The existing practice of Community Corrections Services (CCS) preparing a Statement of Breach Facts and providing that with the committal materials will continue for breaches by non-compliance with conditions. For breaches by reoffending CCS will provide a "Response to Current Order" report containing the same information as is set out in the equivalent section in a Statement of Breach Facts within 14 days of committal.

For both breaches by non-compliance and breaches by reoffending, CCS officers will be requested to provide any other information they consider relevant for the resentencing of the offender. This report will be ordered by the Magistrate at the time of committal.

If the breach arises from commission of an indictable offence the breach will be dealt with by the judge undertaking the sentencing hearing for that indictable offence (as presently occurs).

Where the breach arises from non-compliance or summary offending, on electronic receipt of the committal, the Court will ascertain whether the judge who imposed the order is available to deal with the breach. If the judge who imposed the order is not available, then the breach hearing will remain in the Sentence Mention List (SML) to be listed before a sentencing judge.

Where the judge who imposed the order is available to deal with the breach, the registry will liaise with the judge and defence counsel with a view to list the breach hearing as soon as practicable after the committal. If defence counsel is unknown the breach hearing will be listed based upon the availability of the judge and the offender advised accordingly.

Breach of non-custodial orders (circuit committal)

The above practice for listing breach of non-custodial orders made in the metropolitan region will apply for breaches of non-custodial orders made at circuit hearings.

Guilty pleas at trial

Where an accused is committed for trial and pleads guilty on the day of trial, the judge who takes the plea will sentence the offender.

If the sentencing hearing cannot proceed that day and must be adjourned (in order to allow time for amended facts to be agreed, or for reports), the sentencing will be adjourned to the judge’s next JCL, or another day and time in the judge’s discretion.

If sentencing submissions are heard the same day, but the court reserves its decision, the matter will be adjourned to a JCL, or another day and time in the judge’s discretion.

Sentence after trial

Where an accused is sentenced after trial, and the sentencing is not carried out immediately, the sentencing hearing will generally be adjourned to the judge’s next JCL, or another day and time in the judge’s discretion.

Bail applications

Where the judge hears a bail application that is not concluded due to a bail report being ordered or is adjourned for any other reason, the judge will retain carriage of the application, adjourning it to their next JCL or another day and time in the Judge’s discretion.

Trial of issues

Where an accused pleads guilty before a judge and a short trial of issues matter arises the judge will retain carriage of the matter adjourning it to the next JCL or another convenient time. If the trial of issues requires a longer listing, then the matter will be listed to another date for hearing before the same judge.


Dated 6 December 2021

Her Honour Judge Julie Wager
Chief Judge of the District Court

The District Court has updated its Criminal Consolidated Practice Directions with the following new Practice Direction (PD) and Circular to Practitioners (CP):

  • PD 12 - Letters of Recognition; and
  • CP 21 - Secure Court Hearings.

PD 12 sets out the practice that must be followed in all criminal proceedings where a Letter of Recognition is provided to a judge sentencing an offender who has provided assistance to police or another investigative agency.

Consistently with the High Court decision in HT v Queen [2019] HCA 40, the PD proceeds on the basis that defence counsel are entitled to view/hear the content of a Letter of Recognition.

CP 21 outlines the conduct of proceedings in secure court.

As part of a recent District Court Building digital audio visual upgrade a facility has been created that enables a ‘Secure Court Mode’ hearing to be conducted in a courtroom without the normal functionality of sending audio visual images to court monitors and transcribers.

Proceedings in secure court will primarily be conducted for applications for non-disclosure orders.

PD 12 and CP 21 are now available on the Court’s website as part of the Criminal Consolidated Practice Directions.

Shane Melville
Principal Registrar
9 October 2020

By way of further management of COVID-19 and its potential impacts on the community and the legal profession and with a view to reducing the risk of coming into contact with COVID 19, from 20 March 2020 the court proposes to reduce the number of persons present at the Friday sentence mention list at any one time.

Accordingly the Friday sentence mention list will be broken down into smaller groupings. The effect of this is that the practitioner appearing for an accused within that grouping will be given a not before time for their appearance.

The practitioner will be permitted to appear by telephone link should he or she wish to do so. Should the practitioner wish to appear by telephone link it will be necessary to contact the District Court by email at districtcourt@justice.wa.gov.au with the practitioner’s telephone number. The telephone number provided should enable the court to call the practitioner directly, so that it is not necessary to go through the practitioner’s switchboard or receptionist. The practitioner must be available in his or her office.

Unless there is an issue with continuing bail or surety, the practitioner’s client may answer bail by attending the practitioner’s office and the practitioner providing to the court confirmation of the client’s attendance.

Shane Melville
Principal Registrar
17 March 2020

Last updated: 1-Jul-2024

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