The High Court of Australia is the highest Court in all of Australia and any decision made by the High Court of Australia is binding on every Court in Australia. In NSW, there are also many Tribunals which include NSW Civil Administrative Appeal Tribunal (NAAT), Dust Diseases Tribunal, etc.


In this article however we will be discussing the different Courts in New South Wales.


In the state of NSW, we have the following Courts (those courts are listed below in absolutely no particular order) and they include the following:


1.     Children’s Court

2.     Drug Court

3.     Local Court

4.     District Court

5.     Supreme Court

6.     Federal Court

7.     Land & Environment Court

8.     The Federal Circuit & Family Court of Australia




Children’s Court

The NSW Children’s Court is a Court which hears cases such as Care & protection of a child (cases which involve the safety and well-being of children and young people), Criminal law cases, Apprehended Violence Orders, Compulsory Schooling Orders (orders when a child or young person does not attend school as required by law) to name a few.



You can find all the information you require on the Children’s Court website:





Drug Court

This is a specialist Court established in NSW as this Court provides an alternative to full time imprisonment and for participants with drug dependency who have committed certain crimes can apply to have their matters dealt with by the Drug Court. The Drug Court NSW website highlights the eligibility requirements, and they include that a person must:

  • be willing to participate
  • be 18 years of age or over
  • be dependent on the use of prohibited drugs
  • be highly likely to be sentenced to fulltime imprisonment if convicted
  • have indicated that he or she will plead guilty to the offence
  • must live in the Local Government Areas of Canterbury-Bankstown, City of Blacktown, City of Campbelltown, City of Cessnock, City of Fairfield, City of Hawkesbury, City of Lake Macquarie, City of Liverpool, City of Maitland, City of Newcastle, City of Parramatta, City of Penrith, City of Sydney, Cumberland, Port Stephens, The Hills Shire; 
  • be referred from the District Court at Campbelltown, Parramatta, Penrith, East Maitland, Newcastle or Sydney;
  • be referred from the Local Court at Bankstown, Belmont, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Central, Cessnock, Downing Centre, Fairfield, Kurri Kurri, Liverpool, Maitland, Mount Druitt, Newcastle, Newtown, Parramatta, Penrith, Raymond Terrace, Toronto, Waverly and Windsor

The Drug Court website also clearly highlights those that are not eligible, and that information can be found on their helpful website.


You can find all the information you require on the Drug Court Website:





Local Court

The Local Court is the busiest Court in all New South Wales. The Local Court hears all sorts of minor Criminal Law matters like Drink Driving matters (we often refer to these matters as Summary matters) matters pertaining to AVO’s (Apprehended Violence Orders), Civil cases which comprises of 2 divisions and they include the (Small Claims Division which hears claims up to $20,000 and the General Division which can hear claims over $20,000 and up to $100,000), Traffic matters like Appeals against a Notice of Suspension issued by Road Transport, Fine Appeals, penalty notices and infringement notices, to name a few. As we have previously mentioned, the Local Court is the backbone of all Courts in NSW as this is the busiest Court Jurisdiction in all of NSW.


You can find all the information you require on the Local Court Website:





District Court


The District Court is the ‘intermediate court’ in the NSW Court Hierarchy. The District Court is known as both a Trial Court as well as an Appellate Court. This Court hears serious Criminal matters (except for matters pertaining to Treason, Piracy, Murder etc as those matters can only be finalised in the Supreme Court), this court hears appeals from Lower Courts as well as Civil Proceedings. In relation to the Civil Jurisdiction, it should be noted that this Court deals with matters such as all Motor Accident cases, irrespective of the claimed amount, all other claims up to $750,000 (however it should be noted that this Court could deal with matters which exceed this amount only with the parties’ consent). 


You can find all the information you require on the District Court Website:





Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest Court in the state of NSW. This Court was established in 1823. The Supreme Court has unlimited Civil Jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court hears the most serious Criminal matters. The Supreme Court is also vested with the power of Appellate and Trial Jurisdictions, and they include:


·       Court of Criminal Appeal

·       Court of Appeal


The Supreme Court is also vested with the power of ‘supervisory jurisdiction’ over other Courts in the state of NSW (including Tribunals).


Trial work with respect to both Civil & the Criminal Jurisdiction is also divided between two separate Divisions which include:


·       The Common Law Division

·       The Equity Division


You can find all the information you require on the Supreme Court Website:




Federal Court

The Federal Court was formerly known as the ‘Federal Magistrates Court’ and the Federal Court deals with matters pertaining to Administrative and Constitutional laws & Human Rights, Intellectual Property, Taxation related matters, Migration Law related matters, Class Actions, Employment & Industrial relations, Federal Crime & Related proceedings (to name a few).


You can find all the information you require on the federal Court website:





The Federal Circuit & Family Court of Australia

This Court hears matters pertaining to Divorce, Separation, Children, Property related matters, and other Family law matters. This Court also has the power to review matters pertaining to decisions made under the Migration Act 1958. This Court can also hear matters with respect to Bankruptcy, Fair Work, Human Rights, and other General Federal Law related matters.


You can find all the information you require on the Federal Circuit & Family Court of Australia website:





Land & Environment Court

This Court was established in 1980 as this Court hears matters pertaining to the Development, Building and Planning Disputes and other environmental related matters such as Tree disputes and Local Government Appeals, Mining, Valuation, Compensation and Aboriginal land claim cases, Judicial Review & Civil Enforcements (to name a few).


You can find all the information you require on the Land & Environment Court Website:






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 13th October 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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