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Norman Waterhouse

FAQs – CourtSA and application to ERD Court matters

As of 21 September 2020, use of the Courts Administration Authority’s online portal (CourtSA) became mandatory for persons wanting to interact with South Australia’s courts.

CourtSA enables users to access cases, documents and view case histories within an online platform.

The transition to CourtSA has prompted questions from our local government clients particularly about how councils, and council staff, may gain access to a case (whether or not the council has, or intends to have, legal representation).

What functions can be performed through CourtSA?

The CourtSA platform is being rolled out in a staged manner.

For now, its function is limited to civil actions only; the criminal jurisdiction is yet to transition.

This means that where a council is the prosecuting authority (e.g. for breaches of the Development Act 1993 or the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016), proceedings will continue to be lodged and managed through the ERD Court Registry in the usual way.

Civil matters in the ERD Court – which includes planning appeals, review applications, enforcement notice appeals and civil enforcement proceedings – will now utilise CourtSA, although certain forms and documents must still be lodged at the Court Registry (see below).

Does a council need to register to use CourtSA?

If a council intends having legal representation in every case, it would not need to register to use CourtSA at all, as this would be handled by the council’s legal representative/s on its behalf.

However, given it is unlikely that councils will want to have legal representation at every stage of every matter, it is recommended that each council registers to create a user account (referred to as an ‘Individual Account’) with CourtSA. This only needs to occur once. Click here for a link to the CourtSA account registration page.

It is recommended that one Individual Account be established in the name of the council, with all council staff using that one account. Having a single account for each organisation (rather than separate accounts created in the name of individual staff members) will assist in having a centralised record of all civil proceedings in which the council is a party. It will avoid confusion and difficulty associated with staff movements.

Accessing a case

Once an Individual Account is established, relevant staff members can use that account to request access to cases in which the council is a party.

If the council does not have legal representation yet, case access will be requested on the basis that the council is a ‘party representing itself’.

Staff can access cases for the purposes of viewing the case history and court orders, viewing or lodging documents, making payments and performing other actions on the case.

What if the council has legal representation?

If the council has legal representation from the outset of a case, the legal representative will request access to the case in the capacity as ‘a practitioner representing a party’.

The practitioner will then have the ability to electronically file and edit documents and perform all other functions on behalf of the council. Assuming the council has registered as a user with CourtSA, it will still be able to access the case, but on a more limited, ‘read only’, basis (i.e. as ‘a party represented by a lawyer’). That is, it will be able to see the case history and view documents filed etc, but will not be able to edit the case through the filing of documents.

Similarly, if a council decides to engage legal representation part way through a matter, the legal practitioner will request access as a practitioner representing a party, at which point it will take over active control of the case in CourtSA. Concurrently, the council’s access will change from a party representing itself, to ‘a party represented by a lawyer’, at which point its access will become ‘read only’.

Lodging court documents

CourtSA designates certain forms as smart forms which mean they must be created online using the CourtSA template. At present, the only smart form that can be lodged for ERD Court matters are Notices of Acting.

All originating applications in the ERD Court must be lodged as paper copies over the counter at the Court Registry. Affidavits, interlocutory applications, and notices of discontinuance can be uploaded as scanned copies to CourtSA but cannot be completed as smart forms.

Books of copy documents can also be uploaded electronically to CourtSA, but must be served on the other parties in hard copy. Copy documents over 50 pages in length must also be filed in hard copy at the Court Registry.

CourtSA also has the functionality to request adjournments by consent, subject to attaching sufficient justification to evidence the consent of each other party.

Information on the lodgement process for specific ERD Court forms can be found here. We are also only a phone call or email away if you would like our assistance.

For more information please contact Aden Miegel on amiegel@normans.com.au or 8217 1342, or Peter Psaltis on ppsaltis@normans.com.au or 8210 1297.

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