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Proposed increases to the size of Disputes Tribunal claims

By Andrew Steele - 13 Dec 2013

The Government has just announced it is proposing to increase the size of claims that may be determined by the Disputes Tribunal. The proposal is to increase the present limit of $15,000 to $30,000.

Other significant changes may include:

  • requiring hearings to be open to the public and the media
  • requiring referees to give reasons for their decisions in writing
  • publishing decisions online.

There is no suggestion of any change to the present obligation on Disputes Tribunals to determine disputes according to the substantial merits and justice of a case. Neither is there likely to be a change regarding the requirement that the Tribunal must have regard to the law, but not be bound to give effect to strict legal rights or obligations or to legal forms or technicalities. 

An increase in the financial limit presents clients with the opportunity to pursue significant claims without the disincentive of hefty legal bills. The prospect of not having to face high powered lawyers or being tripped up by legal technicalities is also attractive.

In order to maximise this opportunity, we recommend clients seek legal advice about how best to present their case to the Disputes Tribunal in terms of:

  • presentation of the evidence
  • calling and questioning of witnesses
  • structuring the arguments including the use of, and reference to, relevant law

all with an eye to maximising the "substantial merits and justice of the case". 

Call or email us. Our litigation team will be happy to assist you.


Andrew Steele


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