Types of courts and their roles


There are two levels of court in the Northern Territory (NT):

These courts hear 2 main types of cases, civil and criminal.


A civil case is a dispute not involving a criminal offence. This can be between one or more people, organisations or businesses and often involves money.

Whether a civil case is heard on the Local or Supreme Court depends on nature of the complaint and the amount of money the claims involves.

Civil matters also include adoption and child protection matters.


A criminal case is where a person is charged with a criminal offence by police or another authority.

Whether a criminal case is heard in the Local or Supreme Court depends on the nature and seriousness of the offence.

Local Court and Supreme Court judges

In the NT, judges now sit in both the newly formed Local Court and the Supreme Court.

There are no longer any sitting magistrates in the NT. The Magistrates Court is now known as the Local Court.

There are 6 Supreme Court judges and 14 Local Court judges in the NT.

All Supreme Court judges are based in Darwin but travel on rotation to Alice Springs.

The Chief Judge of the Local Court and 8 Local Court judges are based in Darwin, 4 are in Alice Springs and one presides in Katherine.

All Local Court judges travel to other remote locality courts in the NT, such as Tennant Creek, Borroloola, Yuendumu and Nhulunbuy.

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Last updated: 01 June 2015

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