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Individual rights & freedoms

Taking action: What you can do if you’re discriminated against

Going to the Human Rights Review Tribunal

The Tribunal is independent of the Human Rights Commission. It has the powers of a court, and its proceedings are generally open to the public. Each side of the dispute has the opportunity to present their case. The Tribunal will then make a decision about whether the Human Rights Act 1993 has been breached and, if so, what should be done about it.

Will it cost me anything to take my case to the Tribunal?

If the Office of Human Rights Proceedings (OHRP) has decided to take your case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the OHRP will provide you with legal representation free of charge. You will not need to hire a lawyer yourself.

If the OHRP doesn’t take the case for you, you can still go to the Tribunal, but you’ll have to pay the costs of getting a lawyer yourself and you might be responsible for paying the other side’s costs.

What can the Human Rights Review Tribunal do about my complaint?

Human Rights Act 1993, s 92I

The Tribunal can order the other party:

  • to pay you money (“damages:) for:
    • any financial loss you’ve suffered
    • the loss of any benefit, whether financial or non-financial, that you might otherwise have had
    • any humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings that you’ve suffered
  • not to continue or repeat the discrimination
  • to do particular things to put right any loss or damage you’ve suffered, including attending training programmes.

The Tribunal can also:

  • declare that there’s been a breach of your rights
  • declare that any contract you’ve made in breach of your rights is an illegal contract (so it no longer has any effect).
  • do anything else it thinks will help to put right any loss or damage you’ve suffered.

What happens at the Human Rights Review Tribunal?

If your case goes to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, you’ll have to show the Tribunal:

  • first, that the discrimination was on one of the illegal grounds,
  • second, that it was in one of the relevant areas of life (like applying for a job or a flat), and
  • third, that you were disadvantaged by it.

But if the person who discriminated against you thinks there’s an exception that justifies what they did, they will try to convince the Tribunal of this, rather than you having to show that the exception didn’t apply in your case. The legal term for this issue is “the burden of proof” (or “onus of proof”) – so when it comes to exceptions that allow discrimination, the other person bears the burden of proving that the exception applies in your case.

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Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata/Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission website provides information about human rights in Aotearoa and outlines how you can make a complaint to the Commission.

Website: www.tikatangata.org.nz or www.hrc.co.nz
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz
Phone:  0800 496 877 (0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS)

To make a complaint online, download a complaint form or find out more about the complaints process: www.tikatangata.org.nz/resources-and-support/make-a-complaint

Human Rights Review Tribunal

This website provides information about the tribunal and the hearing process and contains the relevant application forms.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/human-rights

Make a claim to the Human Rights Review Tribunal: www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/human-rights/make-a-claim

The Office of Human Rights Proceedings

The Office of Human Rights Proceedings can provide free legal representation to people wanting to bring unlawful discrimination proceedings in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Website: www.tikatangata.org.nz/about-us/office-of-human-rights-proceedings
Email: ohrp@ohrp.org.nz
Phone: 09 375 8623

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