The Courts: State courts

Contributed by StephenShaw and current to 27 July 2018

As there are both State and Commonwealth governments in Western Australia, there are both State and Commonwealth courts.

Magistrates Court

The lowest levels of the Western Australian court hierarchy are called the Magistrates Courts. The decision-makers in these courts are magistrates, not judges. In most circumstances a person who is unhappy with the decision of a magistrate has the right to appeal the matter to a judge in a higher court.

The Magistrates Court has the following jurisdictions:

Criminal: The Magistrates Court deals with adults over 18 who have been charged with a criminal offence. If the offence is major the court is the entry point to the judicial system and the case will move upwards to the District or Supreme Courts. Summary offences may be dealt with wholy by the Magistrates Court.

Civil: Claims for debt or damages up to $75,000; consumer/trader claims regarding sale, supply or hire of goods or services; and claims for the recovery of ‘real property’ up to $75,000. There is also a minor claims jurisdiction for matters under $10,000 where, as a general rule, the parties are not allowed to have lawyers.

Miscellaneous: Violence and misconduct restraining orders; disposal of uncollected goods; dividing fences disputes; and extraordinary driver’s license applications; residential tenancy matters up to $10,000.

The Magistrates Court homepage is at:

District Court

The next level of court is the District Court. The District Court is presided over by judges. The District Court hears some appeals from the various Magistrates Courts. It also has its own jurisdiction to hear disputes between parties where the subject matter is valued up to $750,000.00 and criminal matters that are considered too serious for the Magistrates Courts.

The District Court homepage is at:

Supreme Court

The highest level of the State court is the Supreme Court. It hears appeals from lower courts and also has its own jurisdictions. Disputes where the subject matter is greater than $750,000.00 go straight to the Supreme Court. Some serious criminal offences go to the Supreme Court. Some other matters, such as disputes about wills, also go straight to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court homepage is at:

Family Court

Western Australia also has its own Family Court. The Family Court of Western Australia hears disputes relating to the division of property when couples divorce. It can also deal with property issues if de-facto couples who have been together for more than two years separate. The Family Court also hears disputes as to the care and custody of children. The Family Court is discussed more thoroughly in Family.

The Family Court website is at:

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