As of 1 August 2016 the monetary limit for new minor civil claims reduced from $25 000 to $12 000.
Proceedings commenced before 1 August 2016 (even if they are over $12 000) will continue as they are.
A Minor Civil Action is an application about:
- a small claim, that is, a dispute involving up to $12 000
- a neighbourhood dispute matter based on trespass or nuisance
- a minor statutory proceeding, which includes applications under the following legislation:
- Fences Act 1975 (SA)
- an application under the Second-hand Vehicle Dealers Act 1995 (SA) pt 4 or s 33
- Second-hand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act 1996 (SA) s 11(8)
- Building Work Contractors Act 1995 (SA) pt 5
- Retail and Commercial Leases Act 1995 (SA) (applications for $25 000 or less) and
- any other proceeding declared by a particular statute to be a minor statutory proceeding.
See Magistrates Court Act 1991 (SA) s 3(1) and (2).
Note that neighbourhood disputes and minor statutory proceedings may involve amounts over $12 000 and still be heard as minor civil actions. If a neighbourhood dispute or a minor statutory proceeding involves a monetary claim for more than $12 000, or a claim for relief in the nature of an order to carry out work where the value of the work is more than $12 000, a party may choose to exclude the case from the rules governing minor civil actions and have it treated as a case in the general division [Magistrates Court Act 1991 (SA) s 3(4)].
In a minor civil action, a lawyer normally cannot represent a party at the trial (although they can be involved in all of the preliminary steps leading up to the trial) and the procedures at trial are not as formal as claims in the General Division. If you want a lawyer to represent you, the other party must agree, or the Court may allow you to have a lawyer if it thinks that you will be disadvantaged without representation. See Magistrates Court Act 1991 (SA) s 38.
Some examples of minor civil actions include:
- motor vehicle property damage claims (see ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES, Motor vehicle accidents, Property damage and the Motor Vehicle Accident Kit)
- claims for money owed (see DEBT)
- neighbour disputes (see NEIGHBOURS)
- Fences Act 1975 (SA) applications (see NEIGHBOURS, Fences and the Fences and the Law booklet)
- strata and community title matters (see HOUSING, Strata titles and the Strata and Community Titles booklet)
- an application under section 61 of the Associations Incorporation Act 1985 (SA) on the basis that an association has engaged, or proposes to engage, in conduct that is oppressive or unreasonable (see COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS, Disputes)
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