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Court hierarchy

Court hierarchy

There are a range of courts and tribunals which have different jurisdiction. The Court hierarchy supports the appeal process and the doctrine of precedent.

Legislation outlines the jurisdiction for each court or tribunal and whether they hear civil or criminal cases or both.

Courts may have original jurisdiction and/or appellate jurisdiction.

  • A court's original jurisdiction decides what cases must start in that court. Eg in Queensland, charges for traffic infringements are first heard in the Magistrate's court, but charges for murder are first heard in the Supreme Court
  • A court's appellate jurisdiction decides when the court may hear an appeal from another court. Eg, if you want to appeal the decision of a Magistrate on a traffic fine, you have to appeal to the District Court.

Queensland court hierarchy

Court or Tribunal Civil jurisdiction Criminal Jurisdiction Appeal
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) Disputes about tenancy agreements, building, administrative decisions, consumer, debt below $25 000 and trees   Supreme Court (Court of Appeal) > High Court of Australia
Childrens Court of Queensland     Supreme Court (Court of Appeal) > High Court of Australia
Planning and Environment Court     Supreme Court (Court of Appeal) > High Court of Australia
Land Court     Land Court of Appeal > Supreme Court (Court of Appeal) > High Court of Australia
Magistrates Court of Queensland Disputes below $150,000 Traffic infringements, minor offences (shoplifting) and some serious offences (assault, fraud and drug possession) District Court > Supreme Court (Court of Appeal) > High Court of Australia
District Court of Queensland Disputes $150,000 - $750,000 Rape, armed robbery and grievous bodily harm  Supreme Court (Court of Appeal) > High Court of Australia
Supreme Court of Queensland Disputes above $750,000  Murder, manslaughter and drug trafficking Supreme Court (Court of Appeal) > High Court of Australia

Source: https://media.sclqld.org.au/documents/lectures-and-exhibitions/2019/Queensland_courts_worksheet.pdf