The Local Court is the busiest Court Jurisdiction in all of NSW as the Local Court hears thousands of cases per year. But ‘Appeals’ are just as important in the Criminal Justice System.


An Appeal in the simplest of terms is applying to a higher court and asking the higher court to reconsider the decision which was made in a lower court. People tend to explore avenues of appeal to sometimes seek overturning a finding of guilt/ or ‘Quash’ a conviction or because there was an error of law by the original decision maker or even because they are seeking a more lenient sentence. (This is with respect to Criminal Law matters).


There are many types of Appeal in NSW but for the purpose of this article, we will limit it to the following types of appeals:


1.       Appeal against a Sentence imposed in the Local Court to the District Court NSW.

2.       Appeal against Conviction imposed in the Local Court to the District Court NSW.

3.       Appeal against Conviction after a District Court Trial to the Court of Criminal Appeal

4.       Appeal against the severity of Sentence Imposed in the District Court NSW to the Court of Criminal Appeal.


It should be noted that the above list is not exhaustive and there are many other types of appeals.


1.       Local Court NSW

The Local Court is the busiest Court Jurisdiction in all of NSW. The Local Court is where all Criminal Law matters commence however, not all those criminal law matters are finalised in the Local Court. In the Local Court Jurisdiction, the Local Court hears summary matters which include but not limited to drink driving, drug driving, assaults any many more summary offences (to name a few).


Local Court matters are heard by a magistrate and there is no jury in the Local Court NSW.



2.       District Court NSW

The District Court is also known as the intermediate court in the state of NSW. Indictable offences are heard under this Court’s Jurisdiction (Excluding cases such as Murder, Manslaughter, Treason as those types of cases are heard in the Supreme Court NSW) etc.


Matters which come before the District Court are heard before a District Court Judge. Trial matters which are heard before the District Court can be done by way of Judge alone trial (where the Judge ultimately decides the verdict of the matter at the conclusion of the proceedings) or they can be done by way of Jury, where the jury is the decides the verdict.


The District Court jurisdiction hears many appeals from the Local Court. Appeals are heard by a (Single) District Court Judge only. District Court appeals which come from the Local Court usually consist of:


·         Severity appeal– Appealing against the severity of a sentence imposed in the Local Court

·         Conviction Appeal– Appealing the verdict imposed in the Local Court.

·         All Grounds Appeal– Appealing both the Verdict & Sentence imposed in the Local Court.

·         The Supreme Court, Court of Appeal & The Court of Criminal Appeal.


The Highest Court in the state of NSW is the Supreme Court. The most serious criminal law matters are heard in the Supreme Court, and this includes, manslaughter, murder, treason, Piracy, and many more serious offences.


The Supreme Court also hears trials before a Judge alone or Trials before a Jury in cases where the accused has pleaded not guilty.


Supreme Court in some instances hears appeals directly from the Local Court, this is only in matters where there was an ‘error of law’ by the Local Court Magistrate.


The Supreme Court also has two appellate Courts which are the Court of Appeal as well as the Court of Criminal Appeal.


The Court of Appeal hears matters which are civil in nature and not criminal law related.


The Court of Criminal Appeal (for example) hears Criminal Law matters with respect to decisions appealed from both the District Court NSW as well as the Supreme Court NSW.


Let’s presume for a moment that an appeal was made from the Local Court to the District Court & this Appeal at the District Court was unsuccessful. In this instance you are NOT able to appeal to the Supreme Court unless there is an ‘error of law’ by the Local Court Magistrate, and it is very important that you seek legal advice from a lawyer if you would like to appeal your case.



3.       The High Court of Australia.

The High Court of Australia is the highest Court in Australia.


When Leave to appeal has been granted and an appeal is listed in the High Court of Australia, then the appeal will be heard by 5 to 7 Judges of the High Court of Australia.


Appeals to the High Court of Australia can only be made with ‘Special Leave’ meaning the High Court must grant you ‘Special Leave’ to appeal in this Court’s jurisdiction.


The High Court of Australia hears matters with respect to Constitutional Law, Appeal decisions from Court of Criminal Appeal as well as the Court of Appeal.


It is very important that you speak with a lawyer so that you can get the appropriate legal advice which you require prior to going to court.


Our team of experienced solicitors are there for you and can help you answer all your questions, so be sure to contact Nicopoulos Sabbagh Lawyers.


*This article correctly reflects the Laws of NSW as at 7th July 2022.


*Please note that this page or any other pages on our website (including any other social media platforms for Nicopoulos Sabbagh Lawyers) are not to be considered as a substitute for legal advice or even other professional advice. It should also be noted that accessing of this information from this website does not create a client-lawyer relationship.


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