Going to the Disputes Tribunal

If you have an issue

You can use the Disputes Tribunal as an informal, inexpensive, quick forum to resolve claims involving products, services or property up to $15,000 or up to $20,000 if both parties agree.

There no lawyers or judges, disputes are heard by a trained referee, The referee works with both sides to try to reach an agreement. If they can't agree, the referee can make a binding decision.

Making a complaint

  1. First try going back to the business or trader to negotiate the problem and try to agree on a solution. If you can’t agree, you may consider taking matters further.
  2. If you decide to take things further, use Get Guidance to find out more information on your rights or Report or resolve a problem. 
  3. If you decide to file a claim, visit the Ministry of Justice website(external link) for more information on applying and how to prepare your claim. 



Taking it further

The Tribunal can deal with a wide range of disputes including:

  • whether work has been done properly or the correct amount charged 
  • faulty products
  • insurance
  • loss caused by misleading advertising and false statements in sales
  • hire purchase agreements (now called credit sales)
  • disputes involving contracts or business agreements.

The Tribunal can’t deal with disputes relating to:

  • debt collection where there is no dispute about the debt
  • family law disputes e.g. care arrangements or child support
  • welfare benefits or ACC payments
  • wills, rates or taxes
  • residential tenancy or employment matters.

Some general information about dispute resolution

There is a filing fee to make a claim. The latest fees are available on the Ministry of Justice website(external link).

When deciding on a dispute a referee can make an order:  

  • for payment to compensate for loss or damage
  • to vary or cancel an agreement, contract or quote
  • for repairs, refunds or returns
  • that money is not owed
  • that a claim should be dismissed, or struck out because it is outside the Tribunal’s jurisdiction
  • that a supplier will take over responsibility to pay for products that were bought with finance arranged by the supplier but which have been rejected under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Appealing decisions

Either party can apply to the Disputes Tribunal for a rehearing within 28 days of the order or agreed settlement if they believe:

  1. something prevented the proper decision from being made, e.g. relevant information was not available or a mistake was made.
  2. the referee conducted the hearing in a way that was unfair or prejudicial to their case.

A District Court Judge will decide whether or not there are grounds for an appeal.

More information about the Disputes Tribunal

Information about the Disputes Tribunal including applying online can be found on the Ministry of Justice website.

Visit the website(external link)