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4. What is the authority and what types of civil cases can be handled by the Court of First Instance of the High Court?

The Court of First Instance has unlimited jurisdiction over all civil matters. Common types of civil proceedings in the Court of First Instance include actions in the following areas:


  • admiralty (disputes in relation to maritime transport);
  • bankruptcy (more information can be found under Bankruptcy and Winding-up);
  • breach of contract;
  • tort;
  • company winding-up (more information can be found under Bankruptcy and Winding-up);
  • construction and arbitration;
  • custody and ancillary relief in matrimonial proceedings (more information can be found under Matrimonial Matters);
  • hire-purchase;
  • injunction;
  • intellectual property (more information can be found under Intellectual Property);
  • judicial review;
  • mortgage (concerning the failure to make mortgage repayment);
  • personal injury (more details can be found under Personal Injuries);
  • probate and administration (more information can be found under Probate).

If the monetary value of your claim does not exceed $3 million, you normally have to start your legal action in the District Court. Note that if a claim is for an amount slightly in excess of $3 million, the excess can be abandoned to bring the claim within the jurisdiction of the District Court (in which the maximum amount that can be claimed is $3 million), since the legal costs incurred in an action that is commenced in the District Court are generally lower than those of the Court of First Instance.