The District Court Rules 2014 came into force on 1 July 2014 and replaced the District Court Rules 2009.  The 2009 Rules were introduced with the apparent objective of enabling citizens to issue civil proceedings without the assistance of lawyers and were based on a system of set forms which in the event resulted in a proliferation of paper and a lack of clarity.

The 2014 Rules revert to the former system of having Statements of Claim and Statements of Defence which enables the factual and legal basis of the claim and the defence to be set out in a concise way.

The District Court Rules 2014 are largely harmonised with the High Court Rules and each set of Rules follows the same format.

The District Court Rules 2014 can be accessed on http://www.justice.govt.nz/courts/civil.

The District Court has jurisdiction on claims up to $200,000.

The Disputes Tribunal has jurisdiction for claims up to $15,000, or by agreement between the parties up to $20,000.  However the Disputes Tribunal only has jurisdiction in respect of disputes, with the result that where there is little or no dispute that a debt is owed but only a refusal or failure to pay, you cannot bring a claim in the Disputes Tribunal but must bring the claim within the District Court.

If a Statement of Claim is filed and served and the Defendant does not file a defence, then judgment can be obtained by default.

Once judgment has been obtained in the District Court or an order is obtained in the Disputes Tribunal, then there are various enforcement measures that are available under the District Courts Rules.

Where a debt is owed by a company and there is no dispute but only a failure or refusal to pay, then there is a process available under the Companies Act which provides for a Statutory Demand to be served and followed up by liquidation proceedings in the High Court.

Except in the case of simple claims, we would recommend that you seek legal advice.

Leave a Reply