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New Streamlined Process for Civil Claims in District Court

By Andrew Steele - 12 Nov 2009

New streamlined process for civil claims in District Court.

From 1 November, the District Court will follow a new process for civil claims. The new process is intended to be quicker and cheaper for all parties.

Here's how it will work:

  • If you want to make a claim against someone, you (the plaintiff) complete a 
"fill in the gaps" form called a notice of claim. You file this in Court and serve it on the other party (the defendant).
  • The defendant has 30 days to complete and serve you with a notice of response, again using a "fill-in-the-gaps" form.
  • If you wish to proceed after receiving the defendant's response, you have 30 days to serve them with an information capsule. This contains essential information and documents to prove your claim.
  • The defendant has 30 days to respond by serving you with their own information capsule.
  • To continue with your claim, you then have a further 90 days to file a notice of pursuit of claim in Court and serve it on the defendant.
  • The Court may then allocate a short trial. However, in most cases, the Court then calls a judicial settlement conference before a Judge to see whether you and the defendant can resolve your dispute amicably.
  • If a claim is not settled at the judicial settlement conference, the Judge usually allocates a simplified or full trial. Simplified trials have restricted time limits for witnesses and lawyers to talk.

Benefits of the new process.

The new process is self-regulating. If a plaintiff misses a deadline, their claim comes to an end. And if a defendant misses a deadline, the plaintiff can seek judgment.

So, prior to filing the notice of pursuit, the Court's involvement is minimal. A Judge only steps in once the parties are fully informed about each other's claims and are in a position to discuss settlement.

In the past, most cases in the District Court have settled at a judicial conference shortly before trial - after the parties have endured hefty legal costs and long delays. The new process is intended to reverse that trend.

If you require any further information or have any queries, please contact Andrew Steele.


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