Supreme Court returns to BAU

The Supreme Court of Queensland “essentially returned to business as usual”, according to the 2022-23 Annual Report “following the challenges in previous years of administering justice in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The report was tabled in Parliament last week with an overview by Chief Justice Bowskill.

In the Chief Justice’s overview, Her Honour noted the number of criminal lodgements in the Trial Division was 13.5 per cent fewer than in the 2021-2022 year and 14.2 per cent fewer than in 2020-2021. The number of cases disposed of overall was also fewer (a reduction of 6.8 per cent).

“However, there was an increase in the number of defendants finalised by trial state-wide (from 31 to 37), which is consistent with the return to a greater number of jury trials post-COVID,” she said.

“The explanation for the reduction in criminal lodgements is likely to be related to the lower number of matters committed for trial in the Supreme Court during the COVID years, as well as the reduction in police arrests in relation to drug offending during those years.

“At this stage, it is not anticipated that these figures represent a pattern for the future. The lower lodgements meant the Court was able to increase its clearance rate, from 99.5 per cent in the previous year to 107.4 per cent.”


Chief Justice Bowskill noted Civil filings were 6.8 per cent fewer than in the 2021-2022 year in the Trial Division (3203 lodgements, compared with 3438 in the previous year).

“However, this still reflects a generally upward trend overall, in contrast to earlier years. The clearance rate in civil matters also increased (from 94.6 per cen in the previous year to 97 per cent).

“The numbers of matters outstanding for more than 12 months and more than 24 months has remained stable.”

Bail applications formed a substantial amount of the work of the Court.

“The number of bail applications lodged increased significantly to 874, compared to 745 applications lodged in the 2021-2022 year; and is well above the numbers in previous years. The increase in bail applications in this reporting year can no longer be attributed to “prisoner’s health concerns” in relation to COVID, as was the increase, for example, in the 2019-2020 year (733 applications) and the 2021-2022 year (745 applications).

“It is more likely to reflect, proportionately, the higher number of prisoners in custody overall (a significant proportion of whom are on remand) which has been steadily increasing.


“Bail applications represent a significant amount of the work undertaken by the Court in its applications jurisdiction, frequently taking all the time of one judge sitting in applications on any given day, leaving the other judge to deal with the remainder of the civil applications listed on that day.”

However the number of fresh applications under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003 (Qld) was six, significantly lower than the 20 applications filed in the 2021-2022 year.

“Indeed, that is the lowest number of applications the Court has seen for many years; the last time the figure was below 20 was in 2014-15 (in which nine applications were filed). The number of periodic reviews and breach hearings undertaken by the Court also reduced, from 504 in the 2021-2022 year to 362 in the reporting year,” she said.

“The efficiency of practice and procedure in the Trial Division was enhanced, through the issuing of, in some cases new and, in other cases, updated and improved, Practice Directions.”

The Court engaged with the profession in the preparation of many of these Practice Directions.

The profession also grew during the reporting period with 1120 new lawyers were admitted to the legal profession at 10 ceremonial sittings in the Banco Court.


“The apparent gender and cultural diversity of the newly admitted lawyers is a positive matter of note,” the Chief Justice said.

Retirements included Justice Hugh Fraser (14 and a half years as a Judge of Appeal), Justice David Jackson (over 10 years as a Judge of the Trial Division), and Justice Philip McMurdo (20 years’ service as a Judge of the Court, first, as a Judge of the Trial Division, and then as a Judge of Appeal).

Appointments included Justice Peter Flanagan (Judge of Appeal on 16 July 2022), Justice Thomas Sullivan (Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland on 24 February 2023), Justice David Boddice (Judge of Appeal on 10 April 2023) and Justice Catherine Muir (Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland on 11 April 2023).

View the Annual Report here

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search by keyword