Civil Law Tasmania
Civil Lawyers Tasmania
In Tasmania, the Magistrates Court determines civil cases with a value of less than $50,000, while civil matters involving a higher value are determined in the Supreme Court. The Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT) also resolves civil proceedings through dispute resolution processes and through arbitration hearings.
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 as in the General Division. The General Division hears civil matters where the amount in dispute is between $5,000 and $50,000.
To commence proceedings in either division you must file a Claim Form in the Court Registry. You must then serve a copy on the defendant. Before you can take any further action, you must wait 21 days from the date of service, during which time the defendant may file a defence.
If no defence is filed, the plaintiff must file a completed affidavit of service before they can 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.
If a matter is referred to a conciliation conference, and a party refuses to participate, or does not make realistic offers to settle, then cost penalties can be imposed against them. If settlement cannot be reached, the matter will be set down for a hearing.
A decision by a magistrate can be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Civil Division of the Tasmanian Supreme Court
The Supreme Court will determine all civil disputes involving over $50,000, along with all probate and estate matters, including challenges to wills. 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 seven 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 can direct parties to attend mediation if they believe there is a possibility the matter can be resolved without the need for a hearing. There is a fee for each mediation conference and this is shared equally between the parties.
TASCAT was formed under the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2020, amalgamating the following tribunals
- The Mental Health Tribunal
- The Guardianship and Administration Board
- The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal
- The Asbestos Compensation Tribunal
- The Motor Accident Compensation Tribunal
- The Health Practitioners Tribunal
- The Anti-Discrimination Tribunal
- The Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal
- The Forest Practices Tribunal
Each stream of TASCAT has its own application form. There are no filing fees for TASCAT matters; however, there are fees payable for registering an enduring guardianship, for revoking an enduring guardianship and for several other functions of the guardianship stream of TASCAT.
The main legislation that governs civil matters in Tasmania is the Magistrates Court (Civil Division) Act 1992, the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Act 1932, and the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2020.
These Acts set out the procedures, and rules that need to be followed when commencing and running proceedings.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.