Defending a proceeding in the District Court

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Defending a general civil proceeding – someone wants to recover money or settle a dispute

A person who wants to recover money or settle a dispute with another person or organisation can file an application in a District Court. Claims worth more than $200,000 are dealt with in the High Court (except if Inland Revenue is the plaintiff or the claim is for unpaid rates).

A person who starts a proceeding is the plaintiff and the person or organisation against whom a claim is made is the defendant.

Time limit

You will usually have 25 working days from the day you receive the plaintiff’s documents to file a statement of defence. The number of days you will have to file a statement of defence will be included in the notice of proceeding.

Documents

If you are the defendant, you should get three documents from the plaintiff:

  • Statement of claim
  • Notice of proceeding
  • List of documents relied on.

If you want to defend a claim or object to it being dealt with in the District Court, you can file one of the following documents:

You can also file one of the following documents:

  • an interlocutory application for summary judgment (which asks the court to find judgment in your favour, without trial, because the plaintiff has no lawful case), or
  • an interlocutory application for an interim injunction (which asks the court to make an order for the defendant to your counterclaim to stop, or not take, a certain action), or
  • an interlocutory application for a different order.

Read more about interlocutory applications

Fees

You will need to pay a fee for certain steps in the proceedings:

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Defending an originating application

A person who makes an originating application is called an applicant and a person or organisation against whom orders are sought is a respondent.

If you are a respondent in an originating application, you should receive a document stating the orders that are sought, the grounds on which the orders are sought, and the law or laws that the applicant is relying on. The document should also tell you when the hearing will happen. In most cases you will receive a copy of the applicant’s affidavit supporting the application.

Documents

To defend an originating application you need to file the following documents:

You can also file an interlocutory application for orders or directions

Fees

There is no fee for filing a notice of opposition. You will need to pay a fee if you want to file an interlocutory application:

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Defending an appeal – someone has asked a District Court to reconsider a Judge’s decision

If you don’t like a decision made by a tribunal or other authority, you may be able to ask a District Court to reconsider that decision.

A person who brings an appeal is an appellant and the opposing party is a respondent.

Documents

If someone appeals a decision to which you were a party, you should receive a copy of the following documents:

  • a notice of appeal
  • a notice stating the time and date of the first conference.

To defend an appeal you do not need to file any documents before the first conference, but you must attend the call or conference.

However, if you also want to appeal the decision, you should file a notice of cross-appeal [DOCX, 37 KB] (at least 2 working days before the first conference).

You can also choose to file an interlocutory application for orders or directions

Fees

You will need to pay a fee to file a notice of cross-appeal and any interlocutory application:

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Opposing an application for a restraining order

A restraining order imposes certain conditions on the person subject to the order, to prevent the applicant from more harassment. It is a criminal offence to violate a restraining order without a reasonable excuse.

Documents

You need to file the following documents to oppose an application for a restraining order:

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Opposing an interlocutory application – someone has applied for directions or orders secondary to the main claim

An interlocutory application is an application for directions or orders that are secondary to the main claim, and usually relates to the procedure of a case.

Documents

If you want to oppose an interlocutory application filed on notice by another party, you will need to file the following documents:

Fees

You do not usually have to pay a fee to file a notice of opposition. However, you must pay a fee on the first affidavit filed with a notice of opposition against an interlocutory application for summary judgment:

You will need to pay a fee for certain steps in the proceedings:

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Setting aside or varying a judgment by default

If a judgment by default has been entered against you, you can file an application for the judgment to be set aside or varied if you believe there has been a miscarriage of justice.

Documents

To apply for a judgment by default to be set aside or varied you need to file:

Fees

You will need to pay a fee to file an interlocutory application:

Also see

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