In brief - Effects of the increase to the District Court's jurisdictional limits may include a surge in filings from the commencement date and a rise in both volume and value of insurance claims
The Commencement Proclamation appoints 16 December 2022 as the commencement date of the District Court Amendment Act 2022.
Given the Act will not have retrospective effect, it will be interesting to see how the NSW Supreme Court deals with applications to transfer proceedings where the defendant/s have not agreed to the extended jurisdictional limit of the NSW District Court.
Expected outcomes of the increase in the District Court's jurisdictional limit
We anticipate that there will be an influx of filings on and after 16 December in the NSW District Court and coming into the new year. The NSW District Court will break for summer vacation on 17 December 2022 and resume on 29 January 2023. Defendants and their insurers should expect to receive a flurry of claims in the new year.
Given we regularly receive Schedules of Damages in excess of the current jurisdictional limit, we expect that plaintiffs will value their claims even higher once the limit increases on 16 December 2022. Notwithstanding, any resolution of the matter, be it by way of alternative dispute resolution or a hearing before the Court, will ultimately turn on the evidence relied upon by the parties.
We also expect to see the NSW District Court dealing with more complex matters given the usual link between complexity and value. The Online Court which appears to have recently been upgraded will prove invaluable in mitigating the increased workload. The Practice Notes, as always, will also ensure matters are dealt with in a timely manner.
Potential impact on costs order damages threshold for NSW Supreme Court?
It is also a timely reminder to revisit the application of Rule 42.34 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005, which in simple terms disentitles the plaintiff in the NSW Supreme Court from a costs order (if successful) where damages assessed are below $500,000 unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that commencing and continuing proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court was appropriate.
We await to see whether the legislature will increase the amount of $500,000 to account for the increased jurisdictional limit in the NSW District Court.
This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2023.