Who can use the Tribunal?

The Tribunal will only consider residential insurance claims relating to the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 to 31 December 2011. The Tribunal will also be able to 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 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.

Will the Tribunal consider claims involving on-sold properties?

No. Many of the disputes involving on-sold properties – those sold since the damage occurred – 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.

Will 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 will the Tribunal be located?

The Tribunal is located in Christchurch. The address is:

Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal
Level 1, District Court
Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct
20 Lichfield Street

When can claims be filed with the Tribunal?

The Tribunal is open 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. It might include emails, letters, photos and/or technical reports.

Will homeowners need a lawyer?

Legal representation is not necessary, but you may choose to engage a lawyer. More about the kinds of 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.

What powers will the Tribunal have?

The Tribunal has powers like that of a court. The Tribunal can:

  • make direct enquiries of the parties and require them to provide more information or clarify facts
  • set timeframes that must be followed
  • appoint its own independent expert advisers, to help Tribunal members understand the technical aspects
  • refer points of law to the High Court for advice, to ensure sound and consistent decision-making on matters where the law may not be clear or settled
  • make any order a court can, including awarding costs or general damages
  • make binding and enforceable decisions.

Who are the Tribunal members?

The Chair of the Tribunal is Chris Somerville. The appointment of members to support him is underway.

Are hearings public?

Tribunal hearings are public unless there is a reason for them to be private.

Following on from the submissions hearing, the Tribunal will issue a written decision to the parties. The decision will be subsequently published on the Tribunal website, unless there is good reason not to publish it.

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. These things should contribute to an efficient process for homeowners.

Could 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.