Disputes Tribunal hearings
Before the hearing
What can I do to prepare for the Disputes Tribunal hearing?
Whether you are the applicant bringing the claim or the respondent defending it, you should prepare as fully as possible for the Disputes Tribunal hearing:
- Make a written submission – You can make a written submission to the tribunal, giving the details of your dispute and making any arguments you think are relevant. You can ask the tribunal to attach the submission to your file. The advantage of doing this is that the referee will be more familiar with your claim at the hearing.
- Rehearse your argument – Write down the main things you want to say and organise them into a clear and logical explanation of your side of the dispute.
- Bring supporting documents – Organise evidence that might support your side of the dispute, such as letters, invoices, receipts, agreements or contracts, quotes, photographs or police reports.
- Witnesses – Ask any witnesses who can support your case to be present at the hearing. If a witness refuses to go to the hearing, the Disputes Tribunal can order them to attend by giving them a summons.
Showing your evidence to the other side
In the Disputes Tribunal, “disclosure” (of evidence) must be made available to the other party before a hearing, so it is important to send copies of all written evidence to the other parties. The tribunal advises that 10 days before the hearing allows a fair amount of time for disclosure.
The referee on the day has the discretion to allow evidence or to adjourn the hearing to allow the other party time to examine the evidence.
Note: Each party is entitled to a reasonable amount of time to prepare their claim or defence. If a hearing goes ahead and someone hasn’t had reasonable time, that may be grounds for an appeal.