Disputes Tribunal

The Disputes Tribunal provides New Zealanders with a quick, inexpensive, informal and private way to help resolve a wide range of civil disputes. Disputes Tribunals are not like the formal courts. There are no lawyers or judges. A referee who has been carefully selected and trained hears a dispute. Any ruling they make is binding and will, if necessary, be enforced by the courts.

If your claim is for $15,000 or less (or $20,000 if both parties agree) and is disputed then it may be able to be heard by the Disputes Tribunal. While you are not entitled to be represented by a lawyer at the Disputes Tribunal, you gain a significant advantage by consulting with a lawyer from Rennie Cox before you appear at the Disputes Tribunal.

Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal

The Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal resolves disputes between consumers and motor vehicle traders. It can't be used for disputes over private vehicle sales.

The Tribunal deals with disputes over amounts up to $50,000, or more if both parties consent in writing.

The claim must relate to a breach of one or more of the following Acts:

  • Consumer Guarantees Act 1993
  • Fair Trading Act 1986
  • Sale of Goods Act 1908

Tenancy Tribunal

The Tenancy Tribunal hears disputes between landlords and tenants of residential properties who have not been able to reach agreement in mediation provided by the Department of Building and Housing.

The Tribunal conducts proceedings with minimal formality and technicality. It decides disputes according to the general principles of relevant law and the merits and justice of the case, but is not bound by strict legal technicalities.


Tenancy Tribunal hearings are heard by impartial and independent Tenancy Adjudicators. Most are lawyers appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Ministers of Justice and Housing.

Administrative Support

The Tribunal's day-to-day administrative support is provided jointly by District Courts and Department of Building and Housing staff.

Department of Building and Housing staff:

  • receive tenancy applications
  • provide a free mediation service
  • schedule the first hearing if mediation fails or is not used
  • provide information, education and advice on tenancy matters
  • administer tenancy bonds.

District Court case officers:

  • provide administrative support for the Tribunal and the adjudicators
  • liaise with parties over any issues relating to their case that may arise once the application is filed at the Court
  • co-ordinate applications for adjournments
  • manage rehearing and appeal applications.