What Is a Court Registrar? (Duties and How to Become One)

Updated 30 September 2022

Court registrars are in charge of the administration department in court. They might also perform general bench clerk duties, such as preparing court orders, giving information about legalisation and offering support to court officers. Learning about the responsibilities of a court registrar can help you plan your career path. In this article, we define what a court registrar is, explore their daily responsibilities, discuss the different types of courts and provide a guide on how you can become a court registrar.

Related: What Does a Court Reporter Do? (And How to Become One)

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What is a court registrar?

The answer to 'What is a court registrar?', it's someone who's responsible for the registry department in courts and can manage interlocutory applications and important court documents. They take the role of administrators and perform most of their tasks on computers in the department. Court registrars are usually engaged in pre-trial work that involves documenting the witnesses and defendants, sending out notices and providing legal information to both parties.

Registrars are often mediators who can settle cases at the earliest opportunity to prevent them from proceeding to higher legal action. This might include family disputes or disagreements that employees and managers couldn't resolve at work. Some people go to the court registry to file legal forms against someone and talk to the registrars about how to lodge the complaint. Court registrars provide an important service to people who are unsure of where to go in court proceedings and how they can submit legal documents to the court.

Related: What Does a Chief Legal Officer Do? (Step-by-Step Guide)

What does a court registrar do?

Court registrars usually perform administration duties that manage taxation returns and costs associated with court rulings. They might also engage with case management files that hold information about upcoming trials and details regarding the type of defence. Registrars are important for updating court trials on the computer system and overseeing daily legislative tasks. Here are some other common registrar duties:

  • organise interpreters for court trials

  • provide contact details for support services

  • reiterate the rules in court

  • support the magistrate and judicial officer

  • liaise with police officers and legal representatives

  • assist with queries from witnesses

  • perform data entry on the case management system

  • draft orders made by the judge

  • document the progress in court trials

Salary of a court registrar

The national average salary of a court registrar is $101,132 per year. Salaries may vary depending on location, qualifications and experience. Salaries may also vary depending on the type of court the court registrar works in.

Court registrar work environment

Here are five types of courts that registrars might work in:

Local and Magistrates' Court

A Local Court and Magistrates' Court typically hear less serious criminal charges than other courts. This is because they manage smaller offences in the community, such as penalty notices, disputes with neighbours, guardianship issues, financial claims and infringement notices. Magistrates can replace the jury in this court and make all decisions in criminal trials and punishments. Some magistrates may determine if the defendant can progress to a trial in a High Court, although this usually only happens if the defendant committed a greater criminal offence.

Court registrars may perform general administrative duties in these types of courts. For example, they might sit in the courtroom with a magistrate and record their conversation with lawyers. They can also release fines to the charged individual, read claim applications, research infringement laws and send court dates to defendants.

District and County Court

District and County Courts often have judges that determine punishments for each defendant and establish the next steps in the court proceeding. Some District courts manage more serious cases than Local Courts, such as robbery, dangerous driving, fraudulent activity and charges for defendants under the age of 17. This court might also specialise in civil matters involving money between people and organisations. For example, organisations that owe employees more than $100,000 can face trials in District and County Courts.

Some court registrars in this court have similar duties to those in Local Courts. Many tasks revolve around administration or interaction with people entering the court. They can evaluate applications from organisations and employees that determine the money claims and other infringement behaviour with finances.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court in a particular state or territory that manages indictable charges and warrants for criminal matters. A Supreme court may have two divisions that separate court appeals and trials that involve money disputes. For example, the Trial Division manages civil disputes in organisations, drug offences and serious crime investigations, whereas the Court of Appeal handles cases from lower courts that require further attention. This type of court has a jury for serious offences who might dictate whether the defendant is guilty.

A court registrar for a Supreme Court can manage important documents that represent indictable charges. These might include the type of crime, witnesses and defendants, court proceeding dates and evidence. A role in this court can also involve maintaining records, managing crime warrants, receiving documents for filing and arranging paperwork.

Federal Court

The Federal Court of Australia manages criminal matters that are associated with federal legalisation. These matters may relate to bankruptcy, taxation laws, appeals from corporations, federal crime proceedings, intellectual properties, employment relations and human rights. Jurisdiction for this court may cover all civil matters that fall under Australian federal laws and charges that relate to serious crime investigations. A federal court can also receive appeals from the Federal Circuit Court regarding criminal offences and civil matters.

Court registrars can provide information about the court fees and help people understand the practices of the federal court. They might also give basic information about mediators, offer application forms for exemption payments, check forms to ensure they're complete and present paperwork to people who write their signatures. A registrar in this federal court might handle the finances and receive payments from those waiting for trials.

High Court

The High Court of Australia is the highest court in the Judicial system that specialises in serious criminal matters. For example, the High Court might receive defendants with criminal charges, burglary incidents and other infringement cases that caused significant effects on the community. A High Court may also close cases that were sent from Magistrate Courts for review. This type of court can listen to appeals from other Australian courts regarding criminal charges or civil matters that require greater punishments.

A court registrar in this environment may participate in trials and follow orders from the judge. This is important for registrars to update the criminal management system on trial progress. They can work in an office setting and protect court orders, collect accounting fees and receive appeals from other courts.

How to become a court registrar

Here's a simple guide you can follow to become a court registrar:

1. Complete certifications

While many courts don't expect candidates to have university degrees or specific qualifications, you might choose to gain further knowledge before you apply for a job in this field. You can complete a Certificate IV in Court Operations. This course may teach you how to perform administrative tasks for court hearings and tend to case management file systems. Understanding administration duties is important for court registrar roles if you want to complete general bench clerk tasks in an office-based setting. You might also learn how to document court trials using shorthand techniques, which can build upon your writing and organisation skills. Many people complete this certification in 12 months or fewer if they study full time and complete their practical and online assignments.

2. Obtain a degree

You can find a degree that specialises in the Australian legal system, such as a Bachelor of Legal Studies. This degree can show you the principles of law and the roles of parliaments and higher federal or state courts. A legal studies degree is important if you want to understand the structure of the Australian and international legal systems and how they work in court.

You can learn skills in legal research, writing and analysis when completing assignments about the criminal justice system, environmental law and how society reacts to legal structures in the governmental system. These skills are beneficial for your role in the court registry to write documents about court trials and research legal terms in each case. The course providers allow students to finish assignments online and attend virtual classrooms on face-to-face digital platforms. The duration of this course is typically three years for full-time study.

Related: 20 Different Jobs You Can Do With a Law Degree

3. Apply for training programs

Finding a training program that offers you practical training in court registries may encourage you to apply your developed skills. The trainee court registrars program in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria is a training course that shows you how to manage court processes in physical courtrooms or online tribunals. This is a good way of performing administrative tasks and communicating with legal representatives in the case. You can submit your cover letter and resume to this program and undertake criminal history checks during the recruitment process.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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