If you have entered into a contract you would be expecting certain things to happen at certain times – but in the event that your expectations under a contract or not met you have options available including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or court proceedings. 

There are several options available for parties wishing to enforce a contract.  The first is direct negotiations with the other party.  Sometimes a simple reminder or open discussion is all that is needed to get things moving forward. 

Other times there might be a dispute around the meaning of, or the operation of, a term in the contract which is not easily resolved directly between the parties.  It might be necessary to get assistance, for example, from a lawyer who specialises in disputes resolution.  

A lawyer should be able to give you an idea of what your legal rights are and what you can do to enforce them.  A lawyer who is experienced in disputes resolution will help you to explore practical and costs effective solutions that achieves your goals.  Other than going to court, there are several other ways that could get you what you need quicker, with less stress and at lower costs.  Mediation and Arbitration are examples of resolving a dispute outside of the court system.  

It is, however, helpful to know what is involved in court proceedings, so that you know what the fall-back option looks like. And of course, sometimes, when all other options have been explored, court proceedings may be the only way to get things sorted.

In order to file an application in court, several formal documents will need to be prepared (usually with the assistance of a lawyer).  Your application can be made to the Disputes Tribunal, District Court or High Court, depending on the nature of the dispute (and the amount of money at stake). 

If the other party has no defence to your claim, you may be able to apply for a summary judgment.  This will usually mean a quicker resolution than if the matter went to a full hearing. 

If the other party does raise a reasonable defence to your claim, then you will need to convince a judge, with the evidence that you present, to make judgment in your favour. 

If you are successful in obtaining judgment in your favour, then you will need to get the judgment sealed and serve a copy on the unsuccessful party.  The successful party may also be able to apply for all, or some, of their legal costs to be paid by the unsuccessful party. 

If the unsuccessful party refuses to comply with the orders in the judgment, you may need to take enforcement the judgment