Starting a proceeding in the District Court

This section outlines how you can start the following types of proceeding in a District Court.

On this page:

General civil proceeding – recovering money or settling a dispute

If you want to recover money or settle a dispute with another person or an organisation, you can file a statement of claim in a District Court. You may only file the claim in a District Court if the value of the claim is less than $200,000. Only Inland Revenue can file a claim with a value of $200,000 or more in a District Court.

If you have a disputed debt under $15,000 (or if the amount of the dispute is more than $15,000 but less than $20,000 and the other party agrees) you may be able to make a claim in the Disputes Tribunal (external link)

Ring 0800 268 787 to check if your claim comes within the jurisdiction of the Disputes Tribunal.

If you start a proceeding in a District Court you are the plaintiff and the person or organisation you are making the claim against is the defendant.

Time limit

You must file your claim within 6 years of the event the claim relates to. This is set out in the Limitation Act 2010 (external link)

Documents

You need to file the following documents for this type of application:

Statement of claim [DOCX, 48 KB]

Notice of proceeding [DOCX, 57 KB] or
Notice of proceeding when applying for summary judgment [DOCX, 61 KB]

List of documents relied on [DOCX, 42 KB]

You can also file one of the following documents if you want to speed up the process:

  • an interlocutory application for summary judgment (which asks the court to find judgment in your favour, without trial, because the defendant has no lawful defence) or
  • an interlocutory application for an interim injunction (which asks the court to make an order for the defendant to discontinue, 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:

Also see:

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Originating application

Certain applications to the court are made by an originating application. Applications are made by originating application if one of the following statements applies:

If you make an originating application you are the applicant and the person or organisation you are seeking orders against is called the respondent.

Time limit

There may be a time limit for making an originating application. Find more information in the legislation relevant to what you are seeking.

Documents

You need to file the following documents to make an originating application:

Originating application (on notice) [DOCX, 39 KB] or
Originating application (without notice) [DOCX, 39 KB]

Affidavit [DOCX, 56 KB] (unless the court directs that evidence will be taken orally on oath, following an interlocutory application).

Fees

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

Also see:

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Civil appeal – asking a District Court to reconsider a Judge’s decision

Note: This section only covers civil appeals. If you want to appeal a criminal conviction or sentence, or any other order made in the criminal jurisdiction, please talk with a lawyer.

If you are unhappy with a decision made by a tribunal or other authority, you may be able to ask a District Court to reconsider that decision.

Check the relevant Act to see if:

  • the decision can be appealed and
  • the decision is appealed to the District Court or somewhere else.

If you file for an appeal you are called the appellant and the other party in the case is called the respondent.

Time limit

There is always a time limit for bringing an appeal. You must check the Act under which you make the appeal to see what the time limit is. If no time limit is set in the Act, the default time limit is 20 working days after the decision is given – see rule 18.4(2) of the District Courts Rules (external link)

If you are outside that time limit and you have a good reason for the delay, you may be able to bring an appeal but you will have to apply for an extension to the time limit. You need to refer to the Act under which you are bringing your appeal to see if this is possible. To apply for an extension to the time limit, you need to file an interlocutory application

Documents

You need to file the following documents to bring a civil appeal:

Notice of appeal [DOCX, 37 KB]

  • A copy of the decision you are appealing against
  • Interlocutory application (accompanied by an affidavit in support) if you are applying for
    • leave to appeal out of time
    • leave to appeal
    • a stay of execution (which stops the decision under appeal from being enforced until the appeal has been decided).

Fees

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

At the first case management conference, the Judge may fix security for costs. This is intended to make sure that, if a litigant is unsuccessful, they will be able to pay the costs of the litigation. The Judge may decide security for costs is not needed if the person is getting legal aid, or in the interests of justice generally. You can find more information about security for costs on this website.

Also see:

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Restraining Orders

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

Note: You cannot apply for a Restraining Order against someone with whom you are in a domestic relationship. Instead you can apply to the Family Court for a Protection Order.

Documents

You need to file the following documents to apply for a Restraining Order:

Application for a Restraining Order [DOCX, 51 KB]

Affidavit [DOCX, 56 KB]

Notice of proceeding [DOCX, 57 KB]

You need to file the following documents to apply for a variation or discharge of a Restraining Order:

Application to vary/discharge a Restraining Order [DOCX, 53 KB]

Affidavit [DOCX, 56 KB]

Notice of proceeding [DOCX, 57 KB]

If you want your address to be kept private, you should also file a notice of residential address and request for confidentiality [DOCX, 52 KB]

Fees

There are no fees for applying for a Restraining Order.

Also see:

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Interlocutory application – applying 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 the case. It may be accompanied by an affidavit supporting the application.

You can file an interlocutory application on notice (where you have to give a copy of the application to the other party and give them a chance to oppose it) or without notice (where you do not give the other party a copy of the application and they do not have a chance to oppose it).

Time limit

An interlocutory application must be filed before the close of pleadings date (the date by which a hearing must be scheduled) unless the Judge says you can file the application after that time: see rule 7.6 of the District Courts Rules (external link)

If you want to ask if you can file an interlocutory application after the close of pleadings date, you will need to file a separate interlocutory application.

Documents

If you are filing your interlocutory application on notice (where the respondent has a chance to oppose the application), use the Guidance on using the interlocutory application on notice template [DOCX, 53 KB]

If you are filing your interlocutory application without notice (where the respondent does not have a chance to oppose the application), use the Guidance on using the interlocutory application without notice template [DOCX, 55 KB]

If you need to make an affidavit in support of your application you must file it at the same time as your application:

Affidavit [DOCX, 56 KB]

Fees

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

Also see:

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Judgments by default – asking the court for judgment if the defendant fails to respond within time

You can ask the court to enter a judgment by default if the defendant fails, within the time stated in the notice of proceeding, to file:

Statement of defence [DOCX, 49 KB] or

  • Notice of appearance under protest to jurisdiction.

Usually the defendant will have 25 working days to respond to a notice of proceeding after being served (if they live in New Zealand).

The defendant may instead file a notice of appearance reserving rights, or a notice of appearance on ancillary matters. If this happens then you can still ask for a judgment by default depending on the matters raised in the notice of appearance.

Liquidated, unliquidated, and non-monetary demands

How you ask for and get a judgment by default depends on what you are claiming. A monetary claim is considered to be a liquidated demand if the sum claimed:

  • has been stated in, or can be precisely calculated on the basis of, a contract relied on by the plaintiff or
  • is stated in, or can be precisely calculated on the basis of, or by reference to, an enactment relied on by the plaintiff or
  • has been decided by agreement, mediation, arbitration, or previous litigation between the same parties or
  • is a reasonable price for goods supplied or services given (when no contract states the price).

All other monetary claims are considered to be unliquidated demands.

Unless the law or a judicial direction requires the matter to be determined by a judge, a request for a judgment by default on a liquidated demand will usually be considered by a deputy registrar without a hearing.

A request for a judgment by default on a non-monetary claim for land and/or chattels follows the same process as a request for a judgment by default on a liquidated demand.

A judge can only consider a request for a judgment by default on any other type of unliquidated demand (such as for damages) after a formal proof hearing.

Documents

If you are asking for a judgment by default on a liquidated demand, or a claim for land and/or chattels, you will need to file:

If you are asking for a judgment by default on an unliquidated demand you will need to file:

You will also need to file a draft judgment (using a modified version of Form 34) if your request for a judgment by default on an unliquidated demand is granted at the formal proof hearing:

Form 34 [DOCX, 50 KB]

Fees

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

Also see:

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Sealing an interlocutory or final order

If you obtain an order you must draw up the order and submit it to the Registrar for sealing if the order:

  • affects a person who is not a party or
  • joins a person as a party or
  • directs that it be served on a person.

In most cases you will need to draw up an order if you obtain an order for substituted service.

You will also need to draw up a final order and submit it to the Registrar for sealing if you wish to have the order enforced.

You may also draw up an order and submit it to the Registrar for sealing for other reasons (for example NZTA requires limited licence orders to be sealed before they will issue you with a limited licence).

Note judgments by default issued without a formal proof hearing are sealed orders and resealing them is not required.

Documents

You will need to file either:

Draft interlocutory order [DOCX, 53 KB] or

Draft final order [DOCX, 50 KB]

You will need to file sufficient copies for yourself, and any person to be served.

Fees

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

Also see:

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Certificate of judgment/order

A certificate of judgment/order is used either:

  • as evidence of the court’s judgment/order, usually in bankruptcy proceedings or
  • to move a District Court judgment/order into the High Court.

Documents

You will need to file a draft certificate of judgment/order [DOCX, 52 KB]

Fees

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

Also see:

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Charging orders – asking the court to issue an order to prevent the debtor’s property from being disposed

A charging order stops a judgment debtor from disposing of the property (listed in the order) until the judgment creditor has had the chance to seize or sell it to cover the judgment debt.

A charging order issued under this application is a final order if the property charged is land.

A charging order issued under this application is an interim order if the property charged is not land but other chargeable property allowed by 96A(1A) of the District Courts Act 1947 (external link)

A person served with an interim charging order must not:

  • make, agree to or allow any conveyance, transfer, assignment or disposition of any estate, right or interest, or of any share in a partnership or company, of the judgment debtor or
  • pay over any income, interest, dividends, bonus, profits or other money due or accruing to the judgment debtor.

To make an interim charging order final, you will need to file an application for a final charging order [DOCX, 53 KB]

Documents

If you are asking for a final charging order over land, or an interim charging order over other property, you need to file:

Application for a charging order [DOCX, 55 KB]

Affidavit in support [DOCX, 29 KB]

Additionally when applying for a final charging order over land it is recommended that you file a recent copy of the certificate of title for the land that you are seeking to be charged. This will help the Registrar ensure that the debtor has a registered interest in the land and that the property description in the charging order is correct.

If you are asking for an interim charging order to be made into a final charging order you need to file:

Application for a final charging order [DOCX, 53 KB]

Draft charging order [DOCX, 53 KB] if the application is granted.

Fees

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

Also see:

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