In this podcast, Accredited Personal Injury Law Specialist and BPC Lawyers Partner, Scott Hall-Johnston discusses the new legislation passed in December 2022 to increase the jurisdiction of the District Court of New South Wales, and how these changes impact someone who is seeking compensation.
Dan: In December 2022, the New South Wales government passed legislation increasing the jurisdiction of the district court of New South Wales. What do those changes actually mean to someone who is seeking compensation? Well, in today’s podcast, I’m talking with Scott Hall-Johnston, a partner at Beilby Poulden Costello, to learn more. Scott, what exactly are the changes?
Scott: The New South Wales Parliament passed legislation in December 2022 increasing the jurisdictional limit of the district court. Prior to that date, the court could only award up to $750,000. But any case that’s filed after the 16th of December 2022 now enjoys the increased jurisdictional limit. That is to say that the court can award up to $1,250,000.
Dan: When did they actually come into effect?
Scott: Dan, the changes apply to any case that’s filed with court on or after the 16th of December 2022.
Dan: So, practically speaking, what does it mean if your case is already before the court?
Scott: If your case was filed prior to the 16th of December 2022, the old rules apply. That is to say, the maximum the court can award in damages is $750,000, there are some exceptions. The amount is increased by 50% if the defendant doesn’t object to the jurisdiction of the court and the defendant can, in some situations, well, can if it wishes to, consent to unlimited jurisdiction. But that’s a rare case.
Dan: Conversely, what if your claim isn’t at court yet? How are you affected in that case?
Scott: There is a real trap, Dan, with the old limit of jurisdiction in the district court. If you transfer your case to the Supreme Court, it won’t ordinarily award you costs on top of your damages, even if you win your case, unless the damages are assessed at more than $500,000. So you run the risk in some cases of having the district court only being able to award you $750,000, even if the judge thinks your case should be worth more. Or transferring a case to the Supreme Court and potentially getting an award of less than $500,000, in which case you don’t get your legal costs awarded.
Dan: So for people listening to this podcast, is there anything else that they should know?
Scott: The changes that have been made to the limited jurisdiction in the district court are going to provide better access to justice, and that is for this reason. The procedure in the district court is far less complex, and hearing dates are obtained much more quickly. So if you’ve got a case that’s worth less than $1,250,000, then you can proceed in the district court and obtain your justice faster and hopefully at less legal cost, and that’s in everybody’s interest.
Dan: If people listening, Scott have got questions, they can reach out to you and the team at BPC?
Scott: Of course they can, Dan. We’re here to help. Please contact us if you’ve got any questions.
Thank you for listening. If you have any questions, please call personal injury lawyers at BPC on 02 8280 6900.