Justice Minister Judith Collins is proposing to increase the monetary threshold of Disputes Tribunals in New Zealand.
The proposals will allow Disputes Tribunals to deal with claims of $30,000 or less. Currently, under section 10 of the Disputes Tribunals Act 1988, civil claims go to a Disputes Tribunal if the disputed amount is $15,000 or less, or up to $20,000 if agreed by all parties. If the threshold is raised to $30,000, then Ms Collins says it will "give more people the option of taking their claim to a Tribunal instead of to a District Court, which can be expensive and take a long time. It will also free up both District Court and legal aid resources for more serious cases," Ms Collins says.
Disputes Tribunals deal with about 16,000 new cases each year and Ms Collins says that on average they deal with disputes three times faster than District Court cases. The changes will be made by a bill to be introduced to Parliament next year.
Other changes are also proposed, including requiring hearings to be open to the public and the media (except when privacy is needed), publishing decisions online (except when there is good reason not to do so), and requiring referees to provid their decisions in writing.
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