What happens next

A person who makes the application or claim is called the plaintiff.

A person who has a claim made against them is called the defendant.

What happens once a claim has been made

We’ll contact the person who made the claim to let them know we’ve received it.

Next we’ll serve the defendant with a Notice of Proceedings, a copy of the claim and any documents that came in with it.

The defendant can send the Tribunal a written response about the claim made against them. Read our guide for more information:

Guide to filing a reply [PDF, 255 KB]

Send us a completed Statement of Reply form if you want to make a response:

Statement of reply [PDF, 386 KB]

Directions teleconference

When the Chairperson decides that the case is ready for a directions telephone conference, we’ll contact the people involved (the parties) and arrange a time and date for the telephone conference call. Parties or their representatives are required to attend the teleconference.

The teleconference is for the Chairperson to set a timetable that puts steps in place to get the case to a hearing. 

Topics that may be covered at a directions teleconference


Make sure that the correct people or groups have been named and included.


Confirm whether parties will be represented and if so, that representatives have the authority to deal with the case.

Jurisdictional issues

Check whether there is any reason that the Tribunal might not have the power to deal with the case.

Issues for determination

Confirm the factual or legal issues that the Tribunal will be asked to decide.


Make arrangements or orders for appropriate disclosure of documents before the hearing.

Other pre-hearing orders

Make other arrangements or orders to ensure that the Tribunal can properly prepare for the hearing.

Hearing date & venue

Set an appropriate date and venue for the hearing.

Number of witnesses & time estimate

Confirm the number of witnesses that will be called by each of the parties, and how long the hearing is likely to take. To find out how to summon witnesses, go to Witness summons.

Pre-hearing exchange of evidence

Fix a timetable for the filing and service of statements of evidence.

Common bundle

Decide whether a bundle of documents is appropriate, and if so, who should prepare it, what it should contain, how it should be arranged and when it should it be filed with the Tribunal.

Other arrangements for the hearing

Confirm whether Māori or any other language will be used. Check whether there are witnesses who will need to give evidence by video link. Check whether any members of the Tribunal might be disqualified from sitting on the case.

After the directions teleconference

The Tribunal will issue a Minute (a written record) to all parties, confirming the timetabling orders, which may include a date of hearing.

The Tribunal may dismiss trivial proceedings

The Tribunal may at any time dismiss any claims brought under section 92B or section 92E if it is satisfied that they are trivial, frivolous or vexatious or are not brought in good faith.

Section 92B of the Human Rights Act(external link)

Section 92E of the Human Rights Act(external link)


If parties reach settlement and don’t need the case to go to a hearing, the plaintiff must tell the Tribunal, in writing, immediately.

The hearing

The case will be heard by the Tribunal Chairperson sitting with 2 members.

The purpose of the hearing is for the Tribunal to hear the evidence and arguments from all parties, so it can make a decision.

You’re responsible for making sure that you have your case prepared and your witnesses ready for the hearing. 

Depending on the type of case, sometimes a representative from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner, the Office of the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, the Human Rights Commission and/or the Office of the Attorney General may also take part in the hearing.

Order of events at the hearing

  1. Each party will make a short opening statement. The plaintiff usually speaks first.
  2. Each party can produce witnesses, who may be questioned by the other parties.
  3. Members of the Tribunal may also ask questions.
  4. Parties will have the chance to make closing submissions about the case.
  5. The Tribunal reserves its decision.

Important notes

The Tribunal may:

  • summons witnesses to appear before it
  • require the production of any books or documents relating to the case
  • take evidence by oath or affirmation
  • deal with the case if any party fails to attend without good reason.

Hearings are usually held in a courtroom and are open to the public. Or if all parties agree, the case can be heard on the papers. This means that you do not have to go to a courtroom for a formal hearing and a decision can be made based on the documentation that all parties have provided to the Tribunal.

Hearing location

The hearing usually takes place in the town or city nearest to where the events that have given rise to the case took place. If both the plaintiff and defendant agree it is more convenient, a different location may be chosen.

If you don’t attend the hearing

You must attend the hearing. If for any reason you are unable to attend, you must contact the Secretary of the Tribunal immediately. You may be asked to provide evidence to support a request for an adjournment (for example, a doctor's certificate).

The Tribunal can hear the case in your absence and deal with it without hearing your version of events. 

Witnesses are expected to attend otherwise their evidence may not be accepted. You and your witnesses should be at the venue at least 15 minutes before the hearing starts.

The decision

The Tribunal will send parties a written decision which will show reasons for the decision.

The decision will also be available on our decisions finder:

Human Rights Review Tribunal decisions finder


If either party fails to follow the Tribunal's orders or directions, the decision can be enforced in the District Court.

If you disagree with the Tribunal’s decision

If you don’t agree with the Tribunal's decision, it may be appealed to the High Court. The timeframe for filing your appeal will be outlined in the letter sent to you along with the Tribunal's written decision.

Contact your local High Court for more information.

Find your local High Court

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