Disputes Tribunal

Please note: The Disputes Tribunal is currently experiencing COVID-19-related disruptions to its services. This is causing some delay in having new claims being processed and responses being provided to emails the Tribunal has received. We apologise for this short-term delay and appreciate your understanding during this time.

Disputes Tribunal operating guidelines from 14 September 2022 (until further notice)

The Disputes Tribunal operated largely by teleconference during the COVID pandemic. Now that the Government’s Traffic Light system has ended, the Tribunal will continue to do some hearings by phone, but will also be doing some hearings face to face.

Do I attend the court for my hearing?

Read your Notice of Hearing carefully. It will tell you whether to expect a phone call from the Referee, or whether you need to attend the District Court building referred to in the Notice of Hearing.

Notices of Hearing that were issued before this operating protocol under the Traffic Light system will still refer to COVID-19 protocols. Continue to comply with the attendance requirements described in your Notice, and then follow the directions of your Referee as to how any future hearings will be conducted.

If the matter is to be heard by teleconference you will not need to attend court premises. The Referee will call you on the date and time recorded on your Notice of Hearing.

If the Notice of Hearing does not refer to a teleconference, you will need to attend the Tribunal hearing room at your District Court. If you do not live in the area, and your case has been set down for an in-person hearing, you can still apply to the local registry to request a teleconference by emailing the contact address on the Notice of Hearing.

How do I prepare for a teleconference hearing?

Please try to ensure you have sent all documents to the Registrar and the other party well in advance of the hearing, have a fully charged phone, and a quiet place to sit without interruption for the duration of the hearing.

What health measures remain in place if my hearing is in person?

Everyone who attends the Disputes Tribunal for in-person hearings must comply with the following health and safety requirements:

  • Follow the directions of your Referee as to the number of people who may enter the hearing room at any one time (e.g., support people and witnesses);
  • Masks are available at the door of the Court if you wish to wear one. You are required to wear a mask in the hearing if the Referee so directs.
  • Follow the instructions of your Referee during the hearing about how documents are to be exchanged in the hearing.

Janet Robertshawe
Principal Disputes Referee

The Disputes Tribunal is quicker, cheaper and less formal than court. You can use the Tribunal to settle small claims up to $30,000.

  • About the Tribunal »

    The Disputes Tribunal isn't like a formal court. You usually represent yourself in a hearing - a lawyer can’t represent you, and there are no judges.

  • What the Tribunal can help with »

    You can use the Disputes Tribunal to settle disputes involving small claims so you don't have to go to court.

  • How to make a claim »

    You'll need to fill out a form plus pay a fee and give us specific information to make a claim.

  • When a claim is made against you »

    What to do if you've gotten a notice of hearing that someone has made a claim against you in the Disputes Tribunal.

  • Going to a hearing »

    How to prepare for a hearing at the Disputes Tribunal and what happens at a hearing.

  • Forms & fees »

    Fees to apply to the Disputes Tribunal depend on the amount the claim is for.

  • Contact us »

    You can find a Disputes Tribunal at almost every District Court in New Zealand - they share the same contact details with the court.

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