Last updated:

January 20, 2022

What do I need to know?

For some civil cases heard in Melbourne, you can find records by searching for the surname of the plaintiff or respondent. These cases cover approximately 1861 – 1893 and 1960 – 1966. These date ranges are dynamic, as the volunteer project to index civil case records for online searching is ongoing.

For the remainder of the cases, there is a two step process to locate a file.

The first step is to use the “find the index to civil case files” search below to locate the relevant year of the Supreme Court Index to Cause Books (1842-1989), and order the record for viewing.

The search below will return both

  • Record Series 5327 the Index to Civil Case Action/Cause Books (which will contain little information about the case, but will contain the case's action / cause number, which will help you discover the case file in Record Series 267)
  • Record Series 5328 the Civil Case Action/Cause Books (which may contain a case summary)


See our tips section on the right to find the action number online up to 1924; for cases from 1925 onwards, you’ll need to order the physical index book and view it in PROV’s North Melbourne Reading Room).

Next Steps

  • Once you have found indexes covering date ranges of interest to you, view them online or order them to view in our Reading Room.
  • Search the index book/s alphabetically and locate an entry about the case of interest. Note down the case’s year and its “action” or “cause” number.
  • Go to the “order a civil case file by year and action / cause number (1852-1989)” page and use the year and action number to order the record.

What are in these records?

In the Index to Action/Cause Books (Record Series 5327)

  • plaintiff and respondent's names
  • the case's action / cause number


In the Action/Cause Books (Record Series 5328)

  • a summary of the case (2 or 4 pages)
  • plaintiff and respondent's names
  • dates when documentation was filed
  • outcome of the case.


In the Civil Case File (Record Series 267)

  • document tendered to serve a summons
  • papers lodged by plaintiff or respondent
  • papers from the trial or before the action (including the judgement).


What you won’t find in a Civil Case File 

  • trial transcripts