The Disputes Tribunal is an important and useful tool used to determine disputes at a lower cost, is less formal than the Courts and provides a faster method to resolve litigation matters.
Who can make a claim to the Disputes Tribunal?
Anyone can file a claim, however, there must be a genuine dispute before the matter can be heard. It is important that you collect evidence that proves there is a dispute and that the other party is aware of the issue.
A party to a claim can seek a declaration that they are not liable for a claim based on contract or quasi contract. This is valuable if you are facing a demand from a debt collecting agency. However, there is the risk that if your application is denied, the Tribunal will order you to pay the debt.
Claims can be made even where contracts provide otherwise.
Amount of claim
The Disputes Tribunal currently has jurisdiction to hear disputes related to claims of up to $30,000.00. If your claim is above this, it can be reduced to bring it within the Jurisdiction of the Tribunal otherwise it must be filed with the District Court or High Court depending on the cost and complexity of the issue.
Interest on claims may also be awarded; this is in addition to the $30,000.00.
Types of Claims
The tribunal can deal with:
How we can assist you in the process
Canterbury Legal can provide you with an assessment of your claim and advise you whether pursuing it in the disputes tribunal is a sensible option. We can also assist you in setting out your claim and ensure you are fully prepared for a hearing. In doing so we would consider the:
Filing a Claim
This should be carried out by you after consideration of the above. Claims can be filed:
Filing Fees are payable to the Tribunal at the time of filing and the fee amount depends on the claim amount in dispute, as below:
Where an applicant and/or respondent is insured for the property that is damaged the insurer must be notified of the proceedings. The insurer will become a party to the proceedings but may waive its right to appear. The insurer may bring a claim where it has paid out to its client or abandon its rights in which case the claim will focus on the insureds unpaid losses which may include an excess payable and loss of no claims bonus.
You are allowed to bring a support person but they may not address the Referee unless invited. They cannot be a lawyer or someone who undertakes advocacy work. Former or retired lawyers are excluded.
If you require an interpreter, you will need to advise the Tribunal well in advance as the interpreter will be appointed by the Tribunal.
You need to be organised to eliminate stress and arrive in plenty of time in advance the hearing. This includes knowing where the tribunal is situated and what parking options are available. There may be tele conferencing or video conferencing involved and you need to be prepared for this. The hearing will almost certainly be recorded so it is important what you say and how you present. Consideration should be given as to what clothing you wear.
Also consideration needs to be had as to what paperwork you are producing. These need to be in multiple copies for producing to the Referee and other parties. If the documentation is extensive it should be collated and paginated for easy reference.
If you are intending to produce electronic documents and photos, videos or sound recordings you need to bring your own laptop or device.
Often the process will be as follows:
Orders and Awards
The Referees have a wide range of powers and can order:
Orders of the Tribunal are enforceable in the same way as an order of the District Court. Settlement Agreements are treated as an order of the Tribunal and are similarly enforceable.
Rehearing and Appeals
An application for rehearing should be lodged within 28 days of the making of the order or award. Grounds for rehearing include:
There is a right of Appeal to the District Court where the proceedings were conducted in an unfair manner which prejudicially affected the outcome. The application must be made within 28 days of the order or award and is filed by post with a filing fee of $200.00 payable.
If you require assistance with all or any of the above, we're here to help. Just get in touch with our office.
For more information on the Disputes Tribunal, visit their website at www.disputestribunal.govt.nz.