Courts of Petty Sessions, known since 1971 as Magistrates' Courts, have dealt with a very large range of "minor" court matters. The types of cases heard, which have changed and increased over time, fall within four broad jurisdictions: criminal, civil, licensing and family law. Apart from a large number of tribunals, Courts of Petty Sessions/Magistrates' Courts provide the lowest level of redress in civil and criminal matters. The County Court, the Supreme Court and various Commonwealth courts have heard and determined more serious criminal cases and larger civil disputes. The licensing jurisdiction since 1886 has comprised non-liquor licensing matters only.
Successive Justices' Acts, and more recently Magistrates' Court Acts, have required the clerk or registrar of each Court to make and keep a register of all convictions, orders and other proceedings of the Court. This register is the authoritative record of the Court. Until about 1888 this record was known as a Cause List Book.
Initially, most clerks maintained a single register for all or most of the Court's business. This series comprises a Court Register which includes a mixture of cases from the various jurisdictions. Subsequently Clerks of Court were instructed to create separate registers for certain types of cases. Some Courts also began to maintain additional registers for different types of cases. Typically, separate registers have been established for the following cases:
Adoption of Children Register
Used for: Adoption of children (1928 to 1958)
Used for: Cases brought to court by summons
Used for: Commonwealth jurisdiction (from 1915)
Family Law Register
Used for: Commonwealth family law jurisdiction (from 1975)
Used for: Liquor (pre 1886) and non-liquor licence applications
Used for: Maintenance cases (1928 to 1975)
Used for: Cases brought to court by police arrest
Used for: Criminal cases brought by summons
Special Complaints Register
Used for: Civil cases where Court determines redress (1928 to 1979)
Where courts have subdivided the registration of cases, each Register has been allocated a different Victorian Public Record Series (VPRS) number and the type of register has been included in the series title.
Court Registers are generally in a common format, giving details of the case number, the name of the prosecutor or informant (in a criminal matter), complainant (in a civil matter), or applicant (in a licensing matter), the name of the accused or defendant, how the case came to the court (arrest, warrant, summons etc), the fees or court costs accrued, a description of the charge, cause or proceeding, the decision or order and any remarks. The column for remarks was often used to record the payment of fines and fees. In order to authenticate entries made in the register the presiding officer(s) of the court signed the register at the end of each day.
Units in P1 consignment were re-serialised from VPRS 1526/P0, units 14 to 43 in 2004.