If you have an issue you are unable to reach a resolution on, the Disputes Tribunal may well be your next step. They can look into a variety of claims that are less than $30,000 in value.
You can apply online via www.disputestribunal.govt.nz or via a paper Claim Form. When you apply, you will be asked to provide your name, address and phone number (you, the Applicant) and the name and contact details of the person or organisation that you are making a complaint about (the Respondent).
You will then need to give a clear summary of your issue. This must include what happened, when and where it happened, what went wrong, what you have done so far to resolve the issue, the total amount you wish to claim and details of any insurance policies you hold that may cover your claim. As this is your issue, you will be familiar with every minute detail, however, when completing your summary, take time to consider the reader, the referee and the Respondent. You should also provide evidence to support your claim, for instance this could include a contract, receipts, quotes, correspondence, photographs, professional opinions, witnesses and so forth. A copy of everything you provide to the Disputes Tribunal will also go to the Respondent.
Once you have submitted your claim you will be sent a notice that will detail the time, date and location of the hearing. Notice will also be given to the Respondent, who may then defend the claim. If the Respondent provides any of their own evidence to the Disputes Tribunal, a copy must also be forward to you. You may then respond, if you feel it is appropriate. Again, whatever you provide to the Disputes Tribunal, will also be sent to the Respondent.
You and the Respondent will then attend the disputes hearing. Lawyers are not allowed to be present or represent you. However, you can request to have a support person with you but they are not entitled to speak during the hearing. The referee will begin the process by asking you to summarise your claim, this will then be followed by the Respondent being asked to summarise their response. During the hearing the referee may ask questions of each of you, they are not trying to catch you out, they are simply trying to get a clearer picture and a deeper understanding of the issue. This will assist them with the final decision. That said, once the hearing is finalised the referee may ask both you and the Respondent if you would like to attempt to come to an agreement between yourselves. If this is something you both wish to consider you may request a break from the hearing to collect your thoughts. However, if you would rather, the referee can make the final binding decision. You should note that if the case is reasonably complex, the referee may wish to consider matters further after the hearing has finished. This may result in the decision being posted to you.
There are also a variety of other tribunals that cover motor vehicles claims, tenancy issues and even employment issues. This means disagreements and claims can potentially be settled without the need for a lawyer.