Local Court > Types of cases

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

Need help?

Call LawAccess NSW 1300 888 529

Before starting any court proceedings you should check which court or tribunal is right for your matter. Call LawAccess NSW for help.

LawAccess NSW is a free government telephone service that provides legal information, referrals and in some cases, advice for people who have a legal problem in New South Wales.

Visit www.lawaccess.justice.nsw.gov.au

The Representing yourself section of the LawAccess website can help you if you have a legal problem in New South Wales. Representing yourself explains legal procedures and forms for court and tribunal cases. It provides:

  • step by step guides to starting and running your case
  • instructions for filling out court forms
  • checklists and frequently asked questions
  • information on alternatives to court
  • contacts for further information and advice 

 Link straight to ...

Practice notes


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Staff at the NSW Local Court cannot give legal advice. Find out where to get legal advice or information.

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​The information on this site is a guide only and is not legal advice - see disclaimer.