Communities and Justice

New South Wales courts and tribunals

Each court or tribunal is founded on the basis of legislation and has specific legal matters over which it has authority or jurisdiction. Visit the websites linked below for more information.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of New South Wales is the highest court in New South Wales. It has unlimited civil jurisdiction and handles claims of more than $750,000. It deals with the most serious criminal matters, including murder and treason. 

The Court of Criminal Appeals hears appeals from the District Court and Supreme Court plus certain Land and Environment Court appeals. 

The Court of Appeal is the highest civil court in the state and hears appeals from the Supreme Court, District Court, Land and Environment Court and some tribunals. 

District Court

The District Court of New South Wales is the 'middle court' in the state justice system. It is a trial court which deals with indictable criminal offences, except murder, treason and piracy. Its civil jurisdiction deals with civil claims from $100,000 to $750,000 and all motor accident cases. 

Appeals from the Local Court are heard in the District Court

Local Court

All criminal cases and more than 90 per cent of civil cases begin in the Local Court of New South Wales. The Local Court civil jurisdiction deals with civil claims up to $100,000. It deals with most criminal matters including summary offences, which are crimes such as stealing, assault and possession of drugs.  

More serious offences are referred to the District or Supreme Court after a committal hearing in the Local Court.

NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) is the one-stop-shop for specialist tribunal services in NSW - consolidating the work of 22 former tribunals into a single point of access.

NCAT deals with a broad and diverse range of matters, from tenancy issues and building works, to decisions on guardianship and administrative review of government decisions. 

Land and Environment Court

The Land and Environment Court of New South Wales is a specialist environmental and planning court, which is responsible for interpreting and enforcing planning and environmental law in the state. It deals with a wide range of civil disputes including appeals against government decisions; breaches of environmental and planning laws; mining disputes and disputes between neighbours in relation to trees.

The court has the same status as the Supreme Court of New South Wales and appeals are taken to the New South Wales Court of Appeal.

Industrial Relations Commission

The Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales hears matters relating to the workplace. The role of the Commission is to regulate workplace affairs in NSW.

The Commission conciliates and arbitrates to resolve industrial disputes, sets conditions of employment and fixes wages and salaries by making industrial awards, approves enterprise agreements and decides claims of unfair dismissal.

Children's Court

The Children’s Court of New South Wales is a specialist court that deals with cases involving the care and protection of children and young people under 18 years of age. This includes criminal cases where the defendant is under 18 years of age at the time of the alleged offence, applications for apprehended violence orders where the defendant is under 18 years of age, and applications for Compulsory Schooling Orders where a child or young person is required by law to attend school. Children’s Court proceedings are not open to the public.   

Coroners Court

The Coroners Court of New South Wales investigates certain kinds of deaths in order to determine the identity of the deceased and the date, place, circumstances and medical cause of death. Coroners also investigate the cause and origin of fires or explosions. 

In some cases, inquests are held and witnesses are called to give evidence. After an inquest, coroners may make recommendations to government and other agencies with a view to improving public health and safety. 

Drug Court

The Drug Court of New South Wales is a specialist court that deals with offenders who are dependent on drugs. A program for each offender is established to assist with treatment and monitoring to help break the drug dependency and criminal behaviour.

Dust Diseases Tribunal

The Dust Diseases Tribunal is a specialist court that hears claims for damages by people who have been affected by dust diseases, including illness caused by asbestos exposure. The tribunal also hears claims for contribution or indemnity from individuals who may have committed a civil wrong, either intentionally or negligently, and insurers.

Last updated:

03 Dec 2023

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