Welcome to the website for Civil Justice in the District Courts of New Zealand.

Civil Court Home

This website provides you with information about New Zealand's civil justice system and what you can do if you have a dispute with someone.

Important changes to civil justice

From 1 July 2014 the District Court Rules 2014 change how a civil proceeding is started, defended and how they are managed.  

If you wish to make a civil claim, please read about the changes and the new process.

If you already have a civil claim underway, the claim may be transitioned to come under the new rules.  Check this process map (PDF, 128KB) to see which rules apply.  Note if you are responding to a claim filed before 1 July, your response will need to be served in accordance with the District Courts Rules 2009.  The case will not transition to the new rules unless a notice of pursuit of claim is filed on or after 1 July 2014.

What is civil justice?

Civil justice relates to disputes between individuals or organisations. Generally, civil cases are not about breaking a criminal law. For example, they could include disputes over business contracts or debts, or disputes between neighbours.

If you have a dispute

If you have a dispute with someone, you may be able to resolve it without going to court. Many civil cases are settled without a court hearing because everyone agrees on a solution.

A civil case comes before the courts if people cannot resolve a dispute between themselves, either independently or with legal help.

There are many advantages in resolving a dispute outside of the court system - it can reduce cost, save time and avoid extra stress.

There are a number of ways you could try to resolve your dispute:

  • If the claim is for less than $15,000 (or less than $20,000 if eveyone agrees) and is disputed, then it may be able to be heard by the Disputes Tribunal.
  • If the claim is for less than $200,000, then you may go to the District Court. If you lodge your claim after 1 July 2014 then the new civil claim process will affect you. For more information on the new process visit the new Civil Claims pages.
  • If your claim is very complex, or for more than $200,000, it will be dealt with by the High Court. Your lawyer or community law centre can give you more information about taking your claim to the High Court.