Civil law TAS falls under many different jurisdictions consisting of two Courts, and nine Tribunals. However, the majority of civil disputes in Tasmania, including debt recovery, are heard in the Tasmanian Courts.
The civil law TAS Tribunals are bodies which are established to adjudicate disputes in specific areas of law. These include the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, the Asbestos Compensation Tribunal, the Forest Practices Tribunal, the Health Practitioners Tribunal, the Mining Tribunal, The Motor Accidents Compensation Tribunal, the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal, and the Resource Management and Appeals Tribunal.
Civil Division of Tasmanian Magistrates Court
The Magistrates Court consists of two divisions: the Minor Civil Claims Division and the General Division. The Minor Claims Division, or Small Claims Court, hears matters with a limit of up to $5000. Parties need to attend a compulsory mediation, and the legal formalities are not as strict. To commence proceedings in either division you need to file a Claim Form, in triplicate, in the Court Registry. You will then need to serve a copy on the Defendant. Service in Tasmania can be done by personally serving the Defendant yourself, or through the use of a process server; or by sending the Claim by registered post, and acquiring a confirmation slip or return signature card. Before you can take any further action you must wait 21 days from the date of service, during which time the Defendant is able to file a defence. If no defence is filed, you must lodge with the court a completed affidavit of service before you are able to apply for default judgment. If a defence is filed, the matter will either proceed to conciliation conference (for amounts under $5000), or to a directions hearing. However, matters over $5000 may also be referred to a conciliation conference at the directions hearing if the Magistrate believes the parties may be able to settle the dispute. If your matter is referred to a conciliation conference, and you refuse to participate, or do not make realistic offers to settle, then cost penalties can be imposed against you. If settlement cannot be reached the matter will then be set down for hearing. If you do not agree with the Magistrates decision you can appeal to the Supreme Court.
Civil Division of the Tasmanian Supreme Court
The Supreme Court will determine all civil disputes over $50,000, along with all probate and estate matters, including challenging a will. To commence civil proceedings in the Supreme Court you must file and serve a Writ. Some civil matters can also be commenced by way of Originating Application. The Defendant then must file a Notice of Appearance within 7 days showing that they intend to defend the claim. If the Defendant fails to file the appearance the Plaintiff can request a default judgment, and commence execution proceedings. The Judge is able to direct parties to attend mediation if they believe there is a possibility the matter can be resolved without the need for a Hearing. The fee for mediation is $500 for each conference, and is shared equally between the parties.
Tribunals in Tasmania
Before you commence action in a Tribunal it is imperative that you ensue that you are aware of the jurisdictional requirements, and the types of orders they can make. Each Tribunal have their own applications, and procedures, for commencing a claim. The most commonly used tribunal is the Motor Accidents Compensation Tribunal. This was established to resolve disputes between the Motor Accidents Insurance Board, and people seeking a benefit under the Motor Accidents (Liabilities & Compensation) Act 1973. If you have applied for a benefit for injury in a motor vehicle accident and it is refused then you can make application to the Tribunal within 14 days of receiving the decision. If you have commenced a claim in any of the Tribunals, and are not satisfied with the outcome, you have a right of appeal to the Supreme Court.
Civil Law TAS Legislation
The main legislation that governs civil law in Tasmania is the Magistrates Court (Civil Division) Act 1992, and the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Act 1932. These Acts set out the procedures, and rules, that need to be followed when commencing proceedings in the Courts. Each Tribunal also has their own legislation that provides them with the jurisdiction to determine certain matters relating to that particular area of law, and the types of Orders that can be made.