Constituted under the District Court of Western Australia Act 1969, the District Court is the intermediate court in Western Australia, presided over by a District Court judge.
It has its principal registry at 500 Hay Street Perth Western Australia and maintains registries in Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Busselton, Carnarvon, Derby, Esperance, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Kununurra, and South Hedland. The District Court also sits at Meekatharra as required.
There are 24 judges of the court who are based in Perth. They travel on circuit to regional areas on a regular basis. The Judges delegate some of their responsibilities to five registrars appointed under the provisions of the District Court of Western Australia Act 1969.
The court deals with all serious criminal offences such as serious assaults, sexual assaults, serious fraud and commercial theft, burglary and drug offences. The only serious offences it cannot hear are those for which the maximum term of imprisonment that can be imposed is imprisonment for life
In the vast majority of cases, a jury of 12 community members decides whether a person accused of a criminal offence is guilty or not guilty. An accused person may choose to have a trial by judge alone, and not by a jury.
In its civil jurisdiction, the court deals with commercial and debt recovery matters involving claims up to $750,000. It has unlimited jurisdiction in claims for damages for personal injuries and it has exclusive jurisdiction in regard to claims for damages for injury sustained in motor vehicle accidents.
Appeals from the Magistrates Court, from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Assessors and WorkCover WA Conciliators are heard by the District Court. The Court of Appeal (Supreme Court) hears appeals relating to matters determined by the District Court.