Court of Summary Jurisdiction (Northern Territory of Australia)



The Court of Summary Jurisdiction is a court in the
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (commonly abbreviated as NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia. The Northern Territory shares its borders with Western Aust ...
of Australia. It has jurisdiction to deal with criminal offences which occur in the territory. It is one of the courts that is usually referred to as a
magistrates court A magistrates' court is a lower court where, in several jurisdictions, all criminal proceedings start. Also some civil matters may be dealt with here, such as family proceedings. Courts * Magistrates' court (England and Wales) * Magistrate's Cour ...


The court was established under the Justices Act (NT) in 1974 and replaced the courts of petty sessions commonly established in Australia since British settlement in 1788 to deal with less serious crime. Those courts followed the English tradition of
justices of the peace A justice of the peace (JP) is a judicial officer of a lower or ''puisne'' court, elected or appointed by means of a commission ( letters patent) to keep the peace. In past centuries the term commissioner of the peace was often used with the sam ...
sitting in and out of sessions in England.


The court can be constituted by a stipendiary magistrate or two justices of the peace. In some situations, a single justice of the peace can hear a case if the maximum fine that can be imposed is no more than A$100 and the prosecution and the accused agree to the case being heard in this matter. Stipendiary magistrates are appointed by the
Administrator of the Northern Territory The Administrator of the Northern Territory is an official appointed by the Governor-General of Australia to represent the government of the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory, Australia. They perform functions similar to those of a state gove ...
under the Magistrates Act (NT).

Commencement of cases

Criminal cases are commenced by way of complaint, although prior to 1992 they were commenced by way of information. A complaint is made to a justice of the peace. The complaint can be in writing or it can be made orally. Generally, a complaint must be made within six months of the crime occurring. The justice of the peace can issue a summons directing the offender to attend court or can issue a warrant for his or her arrest.sections 57 & 58

The hearing

Following an offender’s arrest or appearance at court, the offender is given an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. If there is a guilty plea, the court can sentence the person straight away or may adjourn the case to another day. If there is a not guilty plea, the case is usually adjourned to another day so that witnesses can be subpoenaed to attend and give evidence. The presiding magistrate sits as judge and jury and determines all issues of fact and all questions of law. In serious cases, the magistrate may commit the offender to the
Supreme Court of the Northern Territory The Supreme Court of the Northern Territory is the superior court for the Australian Territory of the Northern Territory. It has unlimited jurisdiction within the territory in civil matters, and hears the most serious criminal matters. It is ...
to stand trial. In less serious cases, the magistrate can punish the offender directly.


The court has a range of options to punish offenders who plead or are found guilty. The court may simply fine the offender or in more serious situations, the court may imprison the offender.



*Magistrates Court Act (NT) *Justices Act (NT) *Justice of the Peace Act (NT) *Homepage of the Court {{Government of the Northern Territory Northern Territory courts and tribunals 1974 establishments in Australia Courts and tribunals established in 1974