COURT PROCESSES AND REPRESENTATION
We appear in all Courts in Western Australia. The Court structure in Western Australia is as follows:
The Magistrates Court
Deals with less serious criminal matters not dealt with by the District Court and the Supreme Court and deals with civil matters such as:
- Claims for debt or damages of up to $75,000;
- Minor claims for debt or damages up to $10,000;
- Consumer/trader claims over sale, supply or hire of goods or services;
- Residential tenancy matters involving amounts up to $10,000; and
- Claims for the recovery of ‘real property’ up to a gross rental value of $75,000.
The District Court
The District Court is an intermediate Court between the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court that deals with civil disputes for amounts up to $750,000 and more serious criminal matters. It has unlimited jurisdiction with respect to personal injuries.
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is Western Australia’s highest court, with responsibility for both criminal and civil matters. It is also the main appeal court of the state. It deals with serious criminal charges, such as murder, armed robbery and serious breaches of Commonwealth drug enforcement laws. Generally, it hears civil cases where the amount involved in the dispute is more than $750,000.
The Supreme Court also deals with probate (including disputes over wills), Admiralty (disputes involving ships), disputed elections and applications under the Corporations Act.
The Court of Appeal hears appeals from single judge decisions of the Supreme Court and from lower courts and various tribunals. To appeal from the Supreme Court, a case must go to the High Court of Australia, which is the ultimate Australian court from which there is no further appeal.
The Federal Court
The Federal Court mainly deals with matters of Federal Law including Australian Consumer Law, Corporations Act, Australian Security and Investments Commission Act and Commonwealth Tax Applications.
The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)
The State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia (SAT) deals with a wide range of administrative, commercial and personal matters. The Tribunal is the primary place for the review of decisions made by Government agencies, public officials and local governments. The main matters dealt with by SAT are the following:
- Guardianship and Administration;
- Building disputes;
- Vocational Regulation;
- Commercial Tenancy;
- Local Government decisions;
- Town Planning;
- Strata Titles;
- Residential Parks;
- Equal Opportunity;
- Working with Children Checks;
- Gender Reassignment;
- Mental health Appeals;
- Land Valuation and Tax; and
- Heritage Decisions.
The Wardens Court
The Wardens Court is constituted under the Mining Act 1978 (WA). A warden is a Magistrate. The Wardens Court deals with matters relating to mining including the right of private land owners in respect of mining tenements. There is a Wardens Court in Perth and there are courts in the mining regions of Western Australia.
The Family Court
The Family Court of Western Australia is a state court that deals with family law. Although funded by the Commonwealth Government, it is the only state-based family court in Australia and commenced operation in 1976. It deals with divorce, marital property settlements, child custody, adoption and surrogacy.