New Zealand Court Hierarchy

by | 11 Jun 2023 | Litigation

If you have a dispute you want to resolve in New Zealand, you need to obtain a formal order from the New Zealand Court system.  Which Court you apply to will generally depend on the amount of money you wish to claim from another party.

If you wish to claim an amount less than $30,000, then you can lodge a claim at the Disputes Tribunal.  The Disputes Tribunal is the most cost effective method of resolving small disputes, because the parties are not allowed to be represented by lawyers.  It only costs about $180 to file a claim and the Tribunal is able to provide translators for free.    

Further, it sometimes doesn’t even matter whether or not you have a good case, because the act of lodging a claim alone could be enough to force the other party to pay you by way of settlement.  Even if you lose your case, you simply lose the application fee and a bit of your time.  Therefore, there is minimal risk in lodging a claim at the Disputes Tribunal.

However, claims between $30,000 to $350,000 must be filed at the District Court.  Proceedings issued at the District Court is much more formal and is very difficult for non-lawyers to attempt to represent themselves. 

All other claims above $350,000 must be filed at the High Court. 

If you disagree with the final outcome of your case in the High Court, it may be possible for you to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Finally, if you are not satisfied with the Court of Appeal’s decision, then you can appeal to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court is the highest Court in New Zealand.  Therefore, a decision from the Supreme Court is final and can no longer be appealed.

If you have any questions about dispute resolution in New Zealand, speak to us at Capstone Law, and we will be happy to assist you.

Kenneth Sun

Kenneth Sun

Partner & CEO

Kenneth is the founding partner of Capstone Law.  Kenneth has a MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and he was also awarded the prestigious Dean’s Academic Achievement Award for graduating from the University of Auckland law school in the top 5% of his class. Kenneth has worked at some of the best law firms in the country before starting Capstone Law.


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