Civil claims can cover a wide range of matters. The most common types of civil claims are claims for debts (such as money owing on loans or under contracts) or claims for damages (such as for money claimed for repairing a car or for personal injuries following a road accident).
Some types of civil claims, such as residential tenancies, unfair dismissals, bankruptcy, copyright and planning and development, are dealt with by special courts or tribunals . This chapter does not deal with the procedure in these special courts and tribunals.
In this chapter, unless otherwise stated, the procedure for making a claim is that which applies in the Magistrates Court Civil (Minor Claims) Division. For additional information about minor civil claims, see 'Debt' and 'Motor vehicle accidents'.
In which court is a civil claim started?
The amount of money or damages being claimed usually determines the Court in which a claim should be started. Acts of parliament and court rules set the monetary limits for the types of claims which courts can deal with. These limits are:
- Up to $6000 Magistrates Court Civil (Minor Claims) Division
- $6001 - $40 000 Magistrates Court Civil (General Claims) Division
- Over $40 000 District Court Civil Division
There are some exceptions. Claims for up to $80 000 can be made in the Magistrates Court Civil (General Claims) Division for:
- compensation, damage or loss as a result of a car accident
- real property title disputes
- property disputes between domestic partners
Claims can also be made in the Supreme Court, but there are cost penalties which can apply if the amount of the judgment awarded by the Supreme Court falls below a certain amount. The amount depends on the type of claim. In a personal injuries claim at least $150 000 must be recovered to avoid the cost penalties.
See also State Courts
The procedures that are followed in the District Court and the Supreme Court are very nearly the same as each other. Whilst there are many similarities with the procedural steps in all of the Courts, generally the procedures have been simplified in the Magistrates Court.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.