Local Court New South Wales

Civil cases

What is a civil case ?

In the local court, civil cases are dispute about money or property, such as:

  • loan agreements
  • unpaid bills
  • damages from a motor vehicle accident
  • services paid for and not provided
  • property not returned.

The NSW Local Court deals with civil disputes for claims up to $100,000.

The local court has two divisions to determine civil cases; the Small Claims Division hears claims up to $20,000 and the General Division hears claims over $20,000 (up to $100,000).

Small Claims Division

Proceedings in the Small Claims Division are generally less formal and less technical than other civil cases, and the rules of evidence don't apply. This means that witnesses are not called to give evidence in defended small claims matters, unless the court decides otherwise.

In defended matters, a pre-trial review is held before a hearing is set. The purpose of the pre-trial review is to help the parties reach an agreement if possible without the need for a further hearing. A pre trial review can be conducted by a registrar, assessor or magistrate. If agreement cannot be reached the court will give directions for the parties to file witness statements by a certain date.

For more information follow the link to the Practice Notes page.

There is a limited right of appeal against decisions in the small claims division. An appeal can be made to the district court but only on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction or denial of procedural fairness.

General Division

Proceedings in the General Division are more formal. In defended cases, witnesses attend and give evidence and cases are determined by a magistrate.

For more information follow the link to the Practice Notes page.

Appeals against decisions in the General Division can be made to the supreme court on a question of law. Appeals in other circumstances require leave from the supreme court to appeal.

Other information about civil cases:

Last updated:

08 May 2023

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