On 30 March 1998, the Civil Division of the Magistrates Court commenced with the proclamation of the Magistrates Court (Civil Division) Act 1992.
This created a new environment of civil litigation designed to encourage the delivery of civil dispute resolution services that are just, affordable and efficient.
Magistrates Court in civil matters have jurisdiction in cases up to $20,000, or an unlimited amount with the consent of the parties. Also, the Civil Division is able to exercise an equitable jurisdiction. For example, it is able to hear and determine claims for specific performance of contracts for the sale of property. Similarly, the court is able to grant an injunction pending the hearing of a claim.
Previously, the pace of litigation was left entirely to the parties. While solicitors still have responsibility for pursuing and protecting their clients’ interests effectively, the court has introduced 'case management' to ensure matters are dealt with efficiently.
The new approach can be described as ‘solicitor driven, court managed’.
Case management involves the use of directions hearings, conciliation conferences, and mediation conferences prior to an action being listed for hearing.
In addition, the rules provide new methods for gathering and presenting evidence before the court. These are designed to reduce the time and cost of proceedings.
A total of 13,682 civil cases were lodged with the Magistrates Courts in Tasmania in 2001-02, a slight increase on the number lodged in 2000-01.
MAGISTRATES COURTS, Civil Cases Lodged, Tasmania
Nature of case
|Australian registered judgement|
|Restraint Order applications|
|(a) Includes all damages claims dealt with by Small Claims.|
Source: Magistrates Court Annual Reports, 2000-01 and 2001-02.