The jurisdiction of the District Court derives from the District Courts Act 1947, which provides that the District Court can hear both criminal and civil proceedings.
The District Courts criminal jurisdiction is busier and arguably broader than any other Court. Over 95% of all criminal trials, including jury trials on all but the most serious matters are heard in the District Court. Within its jurisdiction are offences ranging from very serious offending such as rape, aggravated robbery, and sexual violation down to minor offences such as disorderly behaviour. The only charges that cannot be heard by the District Court are murder, manslaughter and Class A drug offences, and a small number of other very serious crimes.
The District Courts' civil jurisdiction allows the Court to hear any matter where the amount in dispute is $200,000 or less. Civil claims involve arguments over money and property and can include complex commercial transactions.