Our team can assist you with advice in the following areas:
What is a dispute?
Disputes can arise out of a breach of a contract (or agreement), a breach of a ‘duty of care’ that one person owes to another or a breach of a statutory obligation that you owe to someone else, or they owe to you.
Where there is a contract or an agreement in place, there may be a dispute over what the contract means, if there is a contract at all, or what a person has to do to remedy a breach of that contract.
Other claims come about when damage has occurred to someone’s property and there is a dispute over who is at fault and how much a party should be compensated for the damage that has been caused.
Disputes can also arise from the actions or decisions of public officials.
How we approach disputes
At ARL Lawyers we like to take a pragmatic approach to your issues. Our aim is to resolve a dispute with the minimum amount of fuss, saving you both time and money.
Our experienced Dispute Resolution Team will assess the pros and cons of your dispute, recognising that disputes are stressful and can be expensive to resolve. We communicate the issues in clear, easy-to-understand language offering you a number of options to meet your desired outcome. Our experience tells us that most people don’t enjoy confrontation and want to achieve certainty and finality as quickly as possible.
Disputes we can help you with
Our Dispute Resolution team will assist you if you have a:
- IRD dispute
- Construction dispute
- Leasing dispute
- Body Corporate dispute
- Insurance dispute
- Leaky home dispute (PDF)
- Employment dispute
- Civil dispute (PDF)
Do I have to go to court to resolve my dispute?
There are a number of ways to resolve a dispute without going to court. We will advise you on the options that are available to you.
What forums are available for resolving disputes?
Disputes not related to family or relationship property (these are heard in the family court), are dealt with in one of the following forums:
There are also specialist bodies that can assist you in resolving a dispute (e.g. the Ombudsman, Banking Ombudsman or Insurance and Savings Ombudsman). We will be able to advise you what options are available to you.
It is possible to sue another person in the Disputes Tribunal provided the dispute is a genuine one.
Lawyers do not appear in this tribunal, instead a Referee (who normally has some form of legal training), hears the dispute.
This tribunal is intended to help parties pursue individuals or companies relating to disputes of up to $15,000, or up to $20,000 if the person being sued gives their consent.
A Disputes Tribunal decision can be enforced in the same way as a judgment from the District Court.
This Tribunal has been formed to provide a forum for landlords and tenants, and more recently Bodies Corporate and their unit owners, to resolve their differences over rental properties and unit titles. Again, lawyers are not permitted to attend this tribunal. The Referee (who normally has some form of legal training) will oversee the tribunal hearing. They will make a decision based on the facts put before them by the landlord and tenant, or the Body Corporate and unit owner, in line with the Residential Tenancies Act or Unit Titles Act.
A Tenancy Tribunal decision can be enforced in the same way as a judgment from the District Court.
Statement of Claim
To begin a civil claim in the District Court, a plaintiff (person/s bringing a case against another), must file a Statement of Claim form in the District Court and serve a copy of the claim on one or more defendants (the individual, company or institution being sued or accused in a court of law). The Statement of Claim form summarises the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant. The plaintiff is also required to file a list of documents relied upon in support of its Statement of Claim.
Statement of Defence
If the defendant does not respond to the Statement of Claim by providing a Statement of Defence to the plaintiff within 25 working days from when they received the Statement of Claim form, then the plaintiff can seek judgment immediately.
If the defendant responds to the plaintiff by serving a Statement of Defence (which sets out the defendant’s version of facts and circumstances and contests the defendant’s claim), the mater will usually then be allocated a Case Management Conference.
Case Management Conference
A case management conference takes place before a Judge and is an opportunity for the lawyers for each party to make submissions as to how the case should proceed from there. This may include obtaining directions for discovery of documents, agreeing to a timetable for the filing of further documents or applications or having the matter set down for a Judicial Settlement Conference or Hearing.
Judicial Settlement Conference
A judicial settlement conference is a meeting between the parties with a District Court Judge present who assists the parties to try and reach a compromise. It is similar to a mediation. If the parties can agree on a resolution of the matter, then the District Court Judge can make Orders by consent which are binding on the parties in the same way as a Court Judgment.
If a compromise is not reached, the presiding District Court Judge will make directions as to how the matter is to proceed from that point to a Hearing.
The High Court is the appropriate place to commence proceedings if they involve a claim of over $350,000.
High Court filing fees are significantly higher than in the District Court. The High Court rules prescribe a schedule of costs that are substantial and payable by the unsuccessful party.
Liquidations of a limited liability company are commenced by way of a statutory demand.
Note, if any money is in dispute because of a statutory demand, then it is inappropriate to commence proceedings by way of statutory demand.
The company that is served with the statutory demand has 15 working days to make an arrangement to pay the debt. If a satisfactory compromise is not reached, then the next step is to file and serve a statement of claim and an affidavit (a written statement sworn or affirmed before someone who has the legal authority to administer oaths and affirmations), in support of the claim, stating why the company should be liquidated.
Seven days after service of the statement of claim and affidavit, you are required to advertise the liquidation application against the company in a local newspaper and in the Gazette. If the company believes the debt is disputed, it will be required to make an application to the High Court to prevent advertising.
On the basis that the advertising proceeds, after providing proof of the debt to the court, your lawyer will be required to attend the High Court and obtain a liquidation order against the company. A liquidator is then appointed to sell the assets of the company. Based on other secured creditors being granted priority, it is hoped that there will be enough surplus funds available to pay the money owed under the statutory demand.
Court of Appeal/Supreme Court
If a party to High Court proceedings is dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision, that person can appeal to the Court of Appeal. If that person or the opposing side is dissatisfied with the Court of Appeal’s judgment, they can obtain leave from the Court of Appeal to be heard in the Supreme Court of New Zealand.
It is not possible to appeal a Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court replaces the Privy Council in the United Kingdom which, until 2003, was the last forum in which to appeal a New Zealand Court of Appeal decision.