Wardens Courts were originally established in Queensland under the "Gold Fields Act 1874" which provided for a court to be established on any gold field, presided over by a Warden. Further, pursuant to the Mineral Lands Act 1872, Commissioners appointed under that Act were empowered to hold court within a mining district. Under the "Mining Act 1898", the office of Mineral Lands Commissioner was abolished and all existing Commissioners were appointed Mining Wardens, thus amalgamating jurisdiction within mining fields and gold fields.
The "Mineral Resources Act 1989" restructured mining administration with the establishment in 1990 of a centralised Mining Wardens Court as a court of record, and regional offices under the supervision of Mining Registrars.
The Wardens Court had jurisdiction to hear and determine all actions, suits and proceedings relating to prospecting, exploration or mining or to any permit, claim, licence or lease granted under any Act relating to mining.
In addition, under the "Coroners Act 1958", the Warden exercised jurisdiction in relation to any death in or about a mine site, as well as conducting inquiries into any serious or fatal accident on any mining site in Queensland under the Mines Regulation Act 1964 and the Coal Mining Act 1925.
In hearings, the Wardens Court was constituted by one Warden, sitting alone. Accident inquiries were conducted by the Warden with the assistance of four reviewers, experienced in the mining industry. The Court conducted sittings as near as practicable to the accident site. Mining Registrars assigned to a mining district were the Registrars for Wardens Courts convened within that district.
Under the "Land and Resources Tribunal Act 1999", the Wardens Court ceased its jurisdiction in relation to claims, compensation and lease applications on 18 September 2000. This jurisdiction to hear mining matters was assumed by the Land and Resources Tribunal. However, the Wardens Court continued to inquire into serious and fatal accidents until 16 March 2001. From that date, the Wardens Court was abolished; inquiries into all fatalities on mine sites being dealt with by the Coroners Courts and all other serious accidents dealt with by [mining] Boards of Inquiry.