Settling disputes without a lawyer

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Many individuals and companies come across situations where a dispute arises – maybe with a contractor who didn’t complete the job you hired them to do or caused damage to your property, or maybe over an invoice that one party believes is unfair. You may feel its not worth the expense of involving a lawyer, but you would like to get it resolved. If so the Disputes Tribunal may be your answer.

The Disputes Tribunal is a simple and affordable method of resolving a disagreement in New Zealand without involving lawyers. The tribunal deals with claims of up to $15,000, however if all parties agree this can be increased to up to $20,000. Each party represents themselves at a formal hearing and a judgement is given by a Referee. The cost involved is minimal, ranging from $36.30 if the claim is under $1000.00 to $120.80 if the claim is over $5000.00.


The Disputes Tribunal can help with the following kinds of disputes:

  • 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 damaged in a collision or a lawnmower lent to a neighbour that 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 that suggests speakers are included in a sound system when 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

Full details on what types of disputes can and cannot be heard and how to go about making a claim are available on the Ministry of Justice website.

For more information give us a call on Auckland 09 638 6969 or Pukekohe 09 237 1008 – our lawyers will be happy to assist with your query.