The District Courts, established under repealed legislation and continued under the District Courts Act 2016, are subordinate Courts of record (pursuant to Article 78 of the Constitution) possessing civil and criminal jurisdiction.
Civil and Criminal Matters which come before the District Court are heard either by a Judge or Faamasino Fesoasoani. The jurisdiction, powers and authority for Judges and Faamasino Fesoasoani to hear matters in the District Court are provided for in the District Courts Act 2016.
Section 4(2) of the District Courts Act 2016 makes provision for Divisions of the District Court which may be created by an Act of Parliament. Currently, the following Divisions of the District Court exist:
- Family Court, established under section 4 of the Family Court Act 2014; and
- Youth Court, established under section 4 of the Young Offenders Act 2007.
Judges have jurisdiction to hear, determine or pronounce sentences in respect of criminal proceedings relating to an offence of any nature punishable only by a fine or forfeiture of an amount permitted by Act or an offence which is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 7 years. Judges also have jurisdiction to hear and determine any proceedings commenced under the Customs Act 2014.
Faamasino Fesoasoani may hear and determine and impose sentences in respect of criminal proceedings for an offence with a maximum penalty which does not exceed 1 year imprisonment or a fine that does not exceed 5 penalty units. They also have jurisdiction to hear and determine a criminal matter involving the crime of theft provided the value of the property stolen does not exceed the sum of $500.00.
District Court Judges have authority to hear and determine:
- Actions where the debt, demand or damage, or value of chattels claims is not more than $20,000.00.
- Actions for recovery of any penalty, expense, contribution or other like demand recoverable by virtue of any law if it is not expressly provided by any law that the demand is only recoverable in another Court and the amount claimed does not exceed the sum of $20,000.00.
- Actions for the recovery of freehold land or any interest in land, if the assessed capital value of the land or interest does not exceed $100,000.00 or the annual rental for that land does not exceed $20,000.00.
- Other proceedings where the amount owing or sought does not exceed $20,000.00.
Faamasino Fesoasoani may hear and determine matters where the amount claimed does not exceed the sum of $2,000.00.
- Faamasino Fesoasoani may hear and determine matters where the amount claimed does not exceed the sum of $2,000.00.
Other Divisions of the District Court