The term civil litigation is a specialised legal term used to differentiate between criminal and non-criminal court proceedings. In short, any type of litigation that is not criminal litigation can loosely fall into the heading of civil litigation.
Shine Lawyers NZ has a team of lawyers who specialise in civil litigation. Their expertise ensures that they will know the best course of action to resolve your dispute and can put in measures to prevent them from reoccurring in the future. If you’re involved in a dispute, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Within civil litigation, there is a plethora of other specialties, and civil disputes can be resolved by a number of means. These include:
Filing proceedings in the Disputes Tribunal.
This is a Tribunal operated under the Ministry of Justice, with limited jurisdiction to hear certain types of disputes up to $35,000. In the Disputes Tribunal, lawyers are not allowed to attend, and there are very limited rights of appeal.
Mediation and arbitration
Often parties decide to use their own disputes resolution processes such as mediation or arbitration, and these have distinct benefits in resolving some disputes.
The District Court
The District Court has jurisdiction to hear almost all civil disputes where the amount in dispute is up to $350,000.
A District Court proceeding is commenced in the same way as the High Court by filing a Statement of Claim and Notice of Proceeding. After serving this document on a defendant, the defendant has 25 working days to file a defence.
If the Court decides that the dispute requires a full hearing, the parties are first required to attend what is called a judicial settlement conference at which a judge will supervise a type of mediation to see if the matter can be resolved without the need for a full trial.
If the matter cannot be resolved, the Court will allocate a full trial, and the normal Court process takes over.
Once a judgment is obtained, there are a large amount of options for enforcing a judgment including (but not limited to):
- Referral to the High Court for bankruptcy
- Examination by a Registrar
- Distress warrants
- Attachment orders
In the District Court, a successful party will usually obtain a costs award. These costs awards will not cover all of the legal costs involved, but will often provide for a significant proportion of your costs incurred in the litigation.
The High Court
The High Court process is commenced by filing a Statement of Claim and Notice of Proceeding. After serving this document on a defendant, the defendant has 25 working days to file a defence.
The High Court now operates very closely monitored case management programmes in which Associate Judges will implement strict timetables to push proceedings along towards trial or resolution.
Whilst there is no compulsory judicial settlement conference process, most Associate Judges will strongly encourage parties to attempt to resolve proceedings with the help of a judicial settlement conference.
Overall, the court process can be expensive and time-consuming. But the systems are striving for efficiency, and the judges endeavour to be proactive at pushing cases along.
The key to running court proceedings is to be efficient and proactive. As a plaintiff’s lawyer primarily, we have learned that it is important to keep pushing the case along and to comply with timetables so that the defendant eventually has to face up to a judge either in a judicial settlement conference or at trial. More often than not, cases can be resolved before having to go to a full trial.
If you’re involved in a dispute, contact Shine Lawyers NZ team of experts today for an obligation-free consultation.