The Disputes Tribunal is where you can have a civil (private) dispute settled relatively quickly and informally, and without the need to get legal representation. It is also cheaper than getting a dispute settled at a District Court or High Court. And you can now apply for a Disputes Tribunal hearing online.
You can go to the Disputes Tribunal to, for example, settle disagreements:
- with a neighbour e.g. regarding a boundary fence
- between flatmates
- about whether services provided to you have been done properly
- about whether the goods or services you have paid for are what you received
- over whether a debt is owed
The Disputes Tribunal can hear disputes up to the value of $15, 000 (or up to $20,000 if both parties agree).
If you are about to attend a Disputes Tribunal hearing, it’s a good idea to:
- write down what you want to say beforehand, and bring any supporting evidence that you may have – including witnesses,
- be calm, even if you don’t agree with what the other person (with whom you have a dispute) is saying,
- be specific and factual when you tell your side of the story, and
- be prepared to compromise.
More tips are on our Disputes Tribunal page.
During the hearing both sides will be heard by a trained referee. The referee who will usually try to help both parties come to an agreement, but if an agreement isn’t reached, the referee can make a decision which is binding (can be enforced by the courts). For example, they may order one party to pay money, or carry out repairs.
You can read more about the Disputes Tribunal, including how to apply, what it will cost, and when you might want to apply for a re-hearing or file an appeal, on our Disputes Tribunal page.
You can also pick up a number of booklets and other printed resources about the Disputes Tribunal, from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.