Representing yourself in a civil case in the District Court

The information in this section of the Ministry of Justice’s website will help you understand how you can represent yourself when starting a civil proceeding in a District Court or defending a civil proceeding in a District Court.

Proceedings in a District Court can be complicated. You should talk with a lawyer before you defend a civil proceeding. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to get free legal advice from your nearest nearest community law centre

You may also be able to get legal aid

Please be aware that court staff cannot give you legal advice.


The terms ‘file’ and ‘serve’ are used frequently in this guide. The term ‘file’ means to file a document with the District Court. The term ‘serve’ means to give a copy of a document to every other person or organisation that is part of the proceeding and also to every other person that the court says. When an application is made ‘without notice’ that means it will not be served on the other parties. Most applications, however, will need to be made on notice. All documents that you file must comply with rules 5.5–5.13 of the District Court Rules(external link)


The information in this section of the website does not cover all scenarios you may face during the court process. Court proceedings are ultimately under the control of the Judge.

The content in this section of the website is provided as information only and is not legal advice. The Ministry of Justice and the District Court of New Zealand do not accept liability for any loss or damage that may happen if you rely on this website.

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