Disputes Tribunals are:
Disputes Tribunals are not like formal courts. There are no lawyers or judges.
Disputes are heard by a referee who has been carefully selected and trained. A referee is someone who will either help you to come to your own solution or will determine your dispute. Any ruling they make is binding and will, if necessary, be enforced by the Courts.
When can the Tribunal help?
The Tribunal can deal with many disputes. You can take a dispute to the Tribunal even if you have agreed in writing not to, or a contract says “no responsibility accepted”.
The dispute could be about:
whether work has been done properly
whether goods purchased were what you asked for
the amount charged for work done
– damage to property: for example, a car is damaged in a collision or a lawnmower lent to a neighbour is returned damaged
loss of property: for example, someone borrows a bike and doesn’t return it
payment for a loss caused by misleading advertising or misleading statements made by someone selling goods or services: for example, an advertisement which suggests speakers are included in a sound system, when in fact they are an extra cost
whether a boundary fence needs replacing or how costs will be shared
hire purchase agreements
denying that you owe money for an account sent to you.
If your claim is for $15,000 or less (or $20,000 if both parties agree) and is disputed then it may be able to be heard by the Disputes Tribunal.
The Tribunal cannot be used for:
rates, taxes, social welfare benefits or ACC payments
disputes about parenting or care of children
disputes about wills
disputes about ownership of land
the value of goodwill (with a business that is bought or sold)
trade secrets or other intellectual property such as copyright.
How to bring your dispute to the Tribunal
Contact the Disputes Tribunal at your nearest District Court. The staff there will help you. You will be given a form called a “Claim Form”.