District Court New South Wales


The district court is the intermediate court in the states judicial hierarchy. It is a trial court and has an appellate jurisdiction. In addition, the judges of the court preside over a range of tribunals.

Criminal jurisdiction

In its criminal jurisdiction, the court may deal with all criminal offences except murder, treason and piracy.

Civil jurisdiction

In its civil jurisdiction, the court may deal with:

  • All motor accident cases, irrespective of the amount claimed
  • Other claims to a maximum amount of $1,250,000, though it may deal with matters exceeding this amount if the parties consent

Residual jurisdiction

The Compensation Court Repeal Act 2002 abolished the NSW Compensation Court and most of its work was transferred to the Workers Compensation Commission. However, certain disputes were transferred to the district court in its residual jurisdiction including:

Summary jurisdiction

The district court has a summary jurisdiction to hear offences committed under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. WorkCover NSW is the prosecuting authority in these cases.

NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Occupational Division

Judges of the District Court may sit in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in the Occupational Division to hear complaints of professional misconduct against medical doctors. The Occupational Division replaced the Medical Tribunal on 1 January 2014. The registry of the occupational division is located in Sydney.

Appeal jurisdiction

The District Court can hear appeals against Local Court and Children's Court decisions.

Appeals against District Court decisions go to the Court of Criminal Appeal, the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Co​urt of NSW, depending on the type of case in question.

Last updated:

08 May 2023

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