Civil disputes between individuals or groups such as corporations and associations are heard in the Magistrates Court. The ACT Magistrates Court has jurisdiction to deal with claims or disputes for amounts up to $250,000, see section 257 of the Magistrates Court Act 1930.
ACT offences which carry a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment or less and Commonwealth offences with a maximum penalty of less than one year must be heard by Magistrates.
Protection Orders are made under the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act 2008. The basic aim of a Protection Order is to prevent violence through the provision of enforceable court orders. The orders seek not only to protect those people who experience violence but also those who may have cause to fear violence.
Conferencing is a method of resolving disputes. Instead of an application to the court or tribunal being heard by a Magistrate or Tribunal Member, a Registrar will meet with both parties (sometimes separately and sometimes together, depending on the nature of the matter – see below) to discuss the application and see if the parties can come to an agreement themselves.
The Coroner's Court was established by the Coroners Act 1956 and continues in existence under the Coroners Act 1997. The role of the Coroner's Court is to conduct inquests into deaths and inquiries into fires and disasters.
The Magistrates Court is known as the Childrens Court when it is exercising jurisdiction under Chapter 4A of the Magistrates Court Act 1930. The Childrens Court has jurisdiction to hear criminal cases against children (people under 12 years of age) and young people (people 12 years and above who have not turned 18 years of age) and applications and other proceedings under the Children and Young People Act 2008 in relation to children and young people.
The Industrial Court has jurisdiction to deal with industrial or work safety matters as defined in s291Q of the Act. These include criminal and civil matters arising under of the following Acts:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011;
- Workers Compensation Act 1951;
- Scaffolding and Lifts Act 1912;
- Dangerous Substances Act 2004;
- Machinery Act 1949.
Although the Jervis Bay Territory is not geographically a part of the Australian Capital Territory the laws of the Territory apply to Jervis Bay by virtue of theJervis Bay Acceptance Act 1915 (Cth) - so far as they are applicable and providing that they are not inconsistent with an Ordinance made for the Territory.
The purpose of the Circle Sentencing Court is to provide a culturally relevant sentencing option in the ACT Magistrates Court jurisdiction for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have offended.
In 2011 the Magistrates Court Act 1930 was amended by the Courts Legislation Amendment Act 2011 giving statutory recognition to the Family Violence list created by the Magistrates Court and thereby creating a specialised criminal court charged with hearing domestic violence offences.