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Government & legal system

Enforcing Disputes Tribunal Orders

Overview: Options for enforcing a Tribunal Order

Disputes Tribunal Act 1988, ss 45–47

The fact that both parties reach an agreement (or the referee makes an order) does not always guarantee that the decision will be followed. However, agreements and decisions made in the Disputes Tribunal are binding and can be enforced in the same way as an order of the District Court. You can only get an order enforced after its deadline has passed, which gives the other party time to comply with it.

If the unsuccessful party does not comply with the order, the successful party can:

  • write a letter to the other party detailing what enforcement steps they will take if the order is not complied with immediately (this could be written by the successful party or by a lawyer or advocate on their behalf)
  • take the matter to a debt collection agency (the agency will usually charge a fee or a percentage of the debt)
  • apply to the Disputes Tribunal for a work order to be enforced (usually by getting the unsuccessful party to do the work or to pay you money instead)
  • apply to the Disputes Tribunal for part of an agreed settlement to be enforced
  • apply to the District Court for the order to be enforced.

It’s free to apply to the Disputes Tribunal to get certain orders enforced. You just have to fill out one of the forms below and send it to your local District Court:

  • If you and the other party had reached agreement for the order, use form 8. Go to disputestribunal.govt.nz and search “Request to enforce part of an agreed settlement”
  • If the Disputes Tribunal referee made a work order for you, use form 7. Go to disputestribunal.govt.nz and search “Request to enforce work order”

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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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