Local Court of New South Wales
The Local Court of New South Wales is the lowest court in the judicial hierarchy of the Australian state of New South Wales and of Australia. Formerly known as the Court of Petty Sessions and the Magistrates Court, branches of the Local Court have jurisdiction to deal with the majority of minor civil and criminal matters.
The Local Court has more than 160 branches across New South Wales, where civil cases are held and heard before a single magistrate, addressed as "Your Honour" or "Sir" but no longer "Your worship", as of 3 May 2004, sitting and without a jury. The Local Court has no jurisdiction for claims in equity.
In 1788, following the landing of the First Fleet and establishment of the Colony of New South Wales, the power and authority of the first criminal and civil courts in the Colony of New South Wales were vested by the Charter of Justice.
Structure and jurisdiction
The Local Court of New South Wales hears civil matters of a monetary value of up to $100,000; mental health matters; family law and/or child care matters; adult criminal proceedings, including committal hearings, and summary prosecutions for summary offences (i.e., offences of a less serious nature) and indictable offences; licensing issues (as the Licensing Court); industrial matters; and mining matters. In addition to this, the Local Court, via its Small Claims Division, hears claims for less than $10,000 and also hears applications for Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs).
A magistrate can imprison offenders for no more than two years per sentence and no more than the maximum of five years for multiple sentences.
The Children's Court is a division within the Local Court that hears matters involving minors, or those that have not yet reached the age of 18, and is a closed court (i.e., the general public may not attend). The press can attend but may not publish the identity of the offender.
The Coroner's Court is another division within the Local Court that investigates violent or unnatural deaths, suspicious fires and/or explosions, but it cannot make orders to punish offenders. Coroners may, however, terminate their proceedings and pass on their findings onto state or federal Directors of Public Prosecutions for initiation of proceedings in another court at their discretion.
- Local Court Practice Note No. 1 of 2004: Form of Address in Court
- Charter of Justice 2 April 1787 (UK)
- History - Local Courts New South Wales
- The New South Wales Bar Association. (September 2007.) Court Structure, Judges' Titles, and Order of Seniority.
- Local Court Act 2007 No 93 (NSW)
- Official website
- Practice Notes - Local Courts New South Wales
- Chief Magistrate - Local Courts New South Wales