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Government & legal system

Defending a claim


How will I know if a claim is made against me?

Disputes Tribunal Act 1988, s 25

If a claim is made against you in the Disputes Tribunal claim, you’ll be sent a notice telling you about the claim and the date of the hearing. (You’re called the “respondent”, and the person who brought the claim against you is called the “applicant”.)

What are my options if a claim is made against me?

Disputes Tribunal Act 1988, s 24; Disputes Tribunal Rules 1989, rule 13

You (the respondent) can do any of the following:

  • contact the applicant and try to resolve things without going to the Disputes Tribunal
  • go to the hearing and defend the claim
  • file a counter-claim in the Disputes Tribunal if you believe you have a claim against the other person. You have to file your counter-claim at least eight working days before the hearing. Both claims will then be heard at the same time. To file a counter-claim, follow the process explained under “Making a claim” in this chapter.

    Note: If you have difficulty communicating in English, you can ask for an interpreter.

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The Disputes Tribunal

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and can help you apply to the Disputes Tribunal or defend a claim there.

Consumer NZ


This provides information on how the Disputes Tribunal works, your rights at the hearing and how to file a claim.

Disputes Tribunal


This website includes general information about how to apply, fees, the hearing process, and appeals.

You can apply online at:

Some Disputes Tribunal decisions are available to read at: www.disputesTribunal.govt.nz/disputes-decision-finder

Citizens Advice Bureau


Phone (0800 FOR CAB) 0800 367 222

Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for information about the Disputes Tribunal process.

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