On this page you'll find answers to some commonly asked questions. More information can be found within the website and in the Homeowners' Guide to the Tribunal [PDF, 1.4 MB].

Who can apply to the Tribunal?

The Tribunal can consider residential insurance claims relating to the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 to 31 December 2011. The Tribunal will also consider liability for earthquake damage that occurred after 2011, providing at least some of the damage in a claim occurred earlier.

You can apply to the Tribunal if:

  • you have an outstanding insurance claim involving your insurer (including Southern Response) or the Earthquake Commission (EQC), and
  • you held the insurance policy at the time the damage occurred.

This includes first-time settlement claims, as well as claims re-opened due to the discovery of additional earthquake damage or deficient repairs.

The Tribunal will not consider other types of insurance disputes, such as claims related to Kaikōura or other natural disasters.

Insurers and EQC are not able to file claims with the Tribunal.

Why won’t the Tribunal look at Kaikōura claims?

The Act recognises that the Government’s priority is to resolve long-standing claims from the Canterbury earthquakes, so that affected homeowners can move on with their lives. Focusing exclusively on these claims will allow the Tribunal to provide faster outcomes for eligible homeowners, many of whom have been waiting a long time for an outcome.

Does the Tribunal consider claims involving on-sold properties?

On-sold properties are those properties that have changed owners since the earthquake damage occurred, and will not be considered by the Tribunal. The disputes relating to these properties are highly complex and may raise new legal questions that don’t yet have answers. Keeping these disputes outside the Tribunal will help ensure they don’t delay resolution of other claims.

Does the Tribunal consider claims involving builders or other parties?

The Tribunal will only consider claims between you and your insurers or the EQC. However, the Act gives the Tribunal the option to ‘join’ (or add) other potentially liable parties (such as builders) to a case where this could settle the claim faster or make the process fairer.

For example, if an insurer managed repairs to a home and the work was believed to be deficient, the builder who performed the repairs could be joined to the homeowner’s claim. The builder would be required to participate in Tribunal proceedings and would be subject to the Tribunal’s decision.

What about claims that are with the courts?

You can ask the courts to have your claim transferred to the Tribunal.

The courts can also transfer cases to the Tribunal, if it is in the interests of justice to do so.

Insurers will not be able to ask for a claim to be transferred to the Tribunal, but they will need to agree to its transfer if they filed the original claim with the courts.

Where is the Tribunal located?

The Tribunal is located in Christchurch. The address is:

Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal
Level 1, Law Courts Building
20 Lichfield Street

When can claims be filed with the Tribunal?

The Tribunal opened on 10 June 2019 and you can apply now.

What information will homeowners need to provide?

You will need to provide:

  • the completed application form, including your contact details and those of your representative (if you choose to have one), and
  • additional documents to support your application. This is so the Tribunal can understand as much as possible about your claim. Such documentation might include emails, letters, photos and/or technical reports.

Will I need a lawyer?

Legal representation is not necessary, but you may choose to engage a lawyer. More about the kinds of representation and support you can have in the Tribunal is on the About the Tribunal section of the website.

Will homeowners have to pay to use the Tribunal?

No. You can apply to the Tribunal free of charge. However, if you choose to engage other services, those of a lawyer for example, you will need to pay for those services.

How will the Tribunal work?

The Tribunal process is flexible – providing different pathways to resolve a claim depending on the claim’s circumstances and history. It is also proactive – managing timeframes to move claims forward. You can find out more about
the Tribunal process in the What happens next section of the website.

What powers will the Tribunal have?

The Tribunal has powers like that of a court.

Who are the Tribunal members?

The Chair of the Tribunal is Chris Somerville. You can read his profile on the website. The appointment of members to support him is underway.

How long will the process take?

That is difficult to know, as every claim will be different. The Tribunal will set timeframes that must be followed and will actively manage cases to keep claims progressing. The Tribunal will also be able to adjust its resources in response to need, which will ensure the process is as efficient as possible.

Can Tribunal decisions be appealed?

The Act provides for an appeals process. Decisions can be appealed to the High Court on any grounds (fact or law), if agreed by the High Court. Subsequent appeals would be available on matters of law only.

How does mediation work in the Tribunal?

There are two pathways your claim in the Tribunal – the mediation pathway and the hearing pathway. After a discussion with the parties at the first case management conference, the Tribunal will decide whether to refer parties to mediation. Mediation is provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and allows the parties to agree the process and outcome. The mediation pathway is less formal than the hearing pathway.

Find out more about MBIE mediation(external link)

What happens at the case management conferences?

The Tribunal process involves direct discussions between you, a Tribunal member, your insurer and any other involved or support parties. These discussions are called case management conferences and they will occur as often or as little as needed to clarify issues and progress claims.

A first case management conference will always be held, where the Tribunal will discuss the issues with you and decide on which option – mediation or hearings – will be most efficient in resolving the claim.

What happens if I settle my claim with the insurer privately?

At any time, up to the point where a decision has been issued, you and your insurer may agree on a settlement. The Act allows for you to ask that the terms of the settlement are recorded as a formal decision which can be enforced as a District Court order.

How do the hearings work?

Hearings are judicial proceedings that are generally open to the public.The purpose of a hearing is to clarify and test the evidence, The hearing pathway involves separate hearings – such as the hearing of your evidence and the hearing of your insurer’s evidence – that are likely to be held on different days. The hearing pathway will result in the Tribunal issuing a decision.

Will the Tribunal visit my property?

If your claim goes down the hearing pathway, a Tribunal member will visit the affected property, with your permission. Visiting the property helps the Tribunal get a clearer picture of what’s happened and what things are in dispute.

Site visits will take place soon after the first case management conference on a day and time you agree to with the Tribunal.

What’s the difference between the Tribunal and the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS)?

The Tribunal complements the GCCRS, and you can apply to the Tribunal even if you are already engaging with the GCCRS.

Some of the main differences are:

  • Only homeowners can apply to the Tribunal, and insurers must engage in the proceedings. In contrast, all parties need to agree to enter GCCRS process.
  • The Tribunal is inquisitorial and can compel evidence, whereas the GCCRS relies on voluntary participation.
  • The Tribunal is an independent judicial body, whereas the GCCRS is a non-judicial government body.
  • Cases can be transferred to the Tribunal from High or District Court, but this is not the case with the GCCRS.
  • Tribunal decisions can be appealed, whereas GCCRS determinations cannot be appealed.