If you are unable to resolve a matter by discussion/negotiation/mediation then taking a matter to Court may be your next option.

The alternative venues for filing a claim depend on the type of matter and the value in issue.

If your claim is for under $15,000 (or $20,000 with both parties agreement) you can file your claim in the Disputes Tribunal.  You need to show there is a dispute and mere non-payment does not establish a dispute.  Lawyers cannot represent clients at the Tribunal but can assist with preparation of the claim and advising on evidence, the law and submissions in advance.

The District Court can hear cases up to $350,000 and you can be represented by a lawyer.

The High Court hears matters worth over $350,000.    

To file in the Disputes Tribunal you complete a claim form and lodge this with the District Court office (there is a small filing fee payable).

For the District and High Courts you need to file a Statement of Claim, Notices of Proceeding and initial list of documents to be relied on (a full list of documents follows later).

The Disputes Tribunal usually can allocate a date of hearing in 6-8 weeks but it can take longer if they are busy.

It could take many months to get a District or High Court hearing date even after all of the preparatory steps have been completed.

Sometimes the Disputes Tribunal referee will be able to give a decision on the day if satisfied as to the position but usually a decision of the Tribunal and Courts will be given in writing later.

Knowing what documentary or verbal evidence you need to support your case can be complicated so seek advice from an experienced litigation lawyer so you know what you need to do.

Alan Knowsley