The Disputes Tribunal (1 of 2)
Ever had a dispute with someone, it could be trader or a private individual, that you weren't able to resolve? Well there is a place where disputes can be settled simply – the Disputes Tribunal.
Disputes Tribunals are informal and inexpensive. They are not like formal courts. There are no lawyers or judges and hearings are held in private.
Over the next two editions of Word of Advice we look at the two tribunals most often used in consumer disputes– the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal and the general Disputes Tribunal (which hears complaints about more than just motor vehicles).
What can the Disputes Tribunal help with?
The Disputes Tribunal can deal with many types of disputes. As long as the amount in dispute is not more than $7,500 (or if the other party agrees up to $12,000).
The Disputes Tribunal can hear disputes about:
- whether work has been done properly
- whether goods purchased were what you asked for
- the amount charged for goods or for work done
- damage to property
- loss of property
- misleading advertising or misleading statements made by someone selling goods or services
- hire purchase agreements or credit contracts
What happens at a Disputes Tribunal?
Hearings are heard by a Referee who has been carefully selected and trained. A Referee is someone who can help you to come to your own solution, or will determine your dispute.
At the general Disputes Tribunal a single referee will meet with you and the other party in private. The Referee will try to get you both to reach an agreement. If this is not successful, they will look at the law and the facts of your case and decide what’s fair. Then they will either dismiss the claim or make an order.
The Tribunal can order: payment for loss or damage, repair of or parts for faulty goods, repair of damage, changes to an agreement, cancellation of an agreement, refund of money or return of property.
How much does it cost?
- $30 for claims under $1,000.
- $50 for claims from $1,000 to less than $5,000.
- $100 for claims from $5,000 to $12,000.
What happens if the other person doesn’t do what the Tribunal orders?
If a person fails to do what they are ordered, then the other person can apply to the District Court to have the order enforced.
Contacting the Disputes Tribunal
You can contact the Disputes Tribunal at your nearest District Court, which is listed in the Blue Pages section of the phone book under 'Courts'. The staff there will help you and give you a form called a 'Claim Form'. Alternatively, further information is available on the Ministry of Justice’s website.