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HG Alert: Changes to the monetary jurisdiction limits for Queensland’s Courts - 23 July 2009

The Queensland Government recently announced that the civil monetary limits of the Small Claims Tribunal, Magistrates Court and District Court are going to increase. This will have a significant impact on insurance litigation in Queensland.

Later this year, a Bill will be introduced to parliament which will change the civil monetary limits currently in place. These amendments form part of the Bligh Government’s response to a report which reviewed Queensland’s justice system by the Honourable Martin Moynihan AO QC, a retired Senior Judge Administrator of the Supreme Court in Queensland.

Queensland’s Attorney General Cameron Dick has stated that the proposed reforms are to take place in two stages. The first stage will involve:

  • an increase in the civil monetary limits in the District Court, Magistrates Court and Small Claims Tribunal;
  • an expansion of the types of criminal cases which are to heard and tried summarily in the Magistrates Court; and
  • an increase in the criminal jurisdiction of the District Court, from indictable offences with a maximum penalty of 14 years of less, to those with a maximum of 20 years.

The amendments to the monetary jurisdiction of the Court will be most relevant for personal injury litigation. In particular, the new changes will see:

  • a monetary jurisdiction of $7,500 to $25,000 for disputes heard by the Small Claims Tribunal, which will form part of the new Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal from 1 December;
  • an increase in the monetary limit for cases heard in the Magistrates Court from the current limit of $50,000 to $150,000; and
  • an increase in the monetary limit for cases heard in the District Court from $250,000 to $750,000.

The changes represent the first increase to the civil monetary limits of Queensland’s Courts in over 10 years. The proposed amendments will see the vast majority of personal injury litigation in Queensland being decided by the District Court. The proposed changes have been made in the hope that the justice system will become more accessible, with the overall costs of civil litigation reduced. In particular, the changes are intended to enable the Supreme Court to deal with complex cases more efficiently.

The Bill will deal with the civil monetary limits and other amendments proposed in stage one. The second stage of the reforms will be contained in a further Bill. These reforms will relate to the introduction of a new Criminal Justice Procedure Act, as well as uniform procedure rules and forms, which aim to modernise and streamline the criminal justice procedure in Queensland.

For more information on the changes to the civil monetary limits of the Small Claims Tribunal, Magistrates Court and District Court or how these changes could affect you, please contact HopgoodGanim’s Insurance and Risk team.