Dispute resolution through the Weathertight Homes Tribunal
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Dispute resolution is where you directly engage with parties to your claim and seek damages. This may involve mediation, negotiation or adjudication.
The same remedies can be sought at the Weathertight Homes Tribunal as they could in a court of law.
You can claim for:
- penetration of water because of some aspect of the design or construction of the dwelling
- damage or loss of value from the water ingress
- loss of value caused by the fact the building is deficient .
You have to prove that any loss you have suffered is the fault of some aspect of the design, construction or alteration of the building, or from materials used in the building.
You may also claim for:
- general damages including stress and distress and
- “consequential losses” that resulted from the cost of repairs, for example:
- interest on borrowed money
- relocation costs
- alternative accommodation costs and loss of rent if the house had been tenanted.
Legal expenses are not usually claimed for but the Tribunal can award them if a party acts in bad faith or where allegations are made without merit. This doesn’t stop voluntary contributions being offered by parties in mediation.
Details about eligibility for dispute resolution can be found in the Eligibility section.
If a claim is found to be eligible for dispute resolution, the claimant can:
- start or continue repairs
- proceed to resolution
Resolution is the process of settling a claim. The claimant’s options may depend on their estimated or actual repair costs.
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Weathertight Homes Tribunal
The existing disputes and resolution process was established under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006 on 1 April 2007 to provide fast, flexible and cost-effective procedures for resolving leaky home disputes.
It is to be administered by two government agencies; the Department of Building and Housing and the Ministry of Justice.
- The Department of Building and Housing receives claim applications and provides assessment, information, guidance and mediation services.
- The Weathertight Homes Tribunal, supported by the Ministry of Justice, is a judicially independent Tribunal that provides adjudication for claims.
Read how mediation works through the Weathertight Homes Tribunal »
The Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act offers two separate dispute resolution paths.
To contact the Weathertight Homes Tribunal visit the Ministry of Justice website or free of charge from anywhere in New Zealand call 0800 777 757.
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1. Lower-value claims process
Claimants with claims for which the estimate or actual repair costs total $20,000 or less can apply for the Department’s lower-value claims dispute resolution assistance (see lower-value claims process).
This process offers access to negotiation and mediation.
- Negotiation is an informal discussion about the claim where parties try to reach a solution by themselves. Although the Department assists in arranging the negotiation, the claimant chairs and runs the negotiations.
- Mediation is a meeting where a mediator provided by the Department helps parties to a claim to agree on a solution. The mediator is neutral and does not make any decisions about the claim.
If mediation is unsuccessful, claimants can apply to the Weathertight Homes Tribunal for adjudication based on papers relating to the claim.
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2. Standard claims process
Claimants with claims for which estimated or actual repair costs total $20,000 or more can apply to the Weathertight Homes Tribunal for resolution by adjudication. There is a fee of $408.89 (including GST) for this.
A Ministry of Justice case manager will administer the claim from this point and a Tribunal member will be appointed.
Adjudication has the following stages
Pre-hearing: A preliminary conference will be held to consider matters such as joining and/or removing applications, and setting out a timetable for the adjudication and a mediation date if applicable.
Mediation opportunity: The Tribunal may refer the claim to a time-limited mediation.
Adjudication hearing: The hearing is a judicial proceeding where the Tribunal clarifies and tests evidence presented to them.
Decision: After a hearing the Tribunal produces a legally binding decision.
If the claim is settled during the mediation, the hearing will not be needed. A binding and legally enforceable agreement will have been signed by the parties and witnessed by the mediator.
The Tribunal has further information on the adjudication process on its website and in their brochure. Copies are available from Weathertight Services.
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Enforcing a Mediation Settlement or Adjudication Determination
1. Responsibility for enforcement
The Department of Building and Housing (the Department) is not able to assist claimants with the enforcement of mediation settlements or adjudication determinations. Where a party does not comply with the terms of a settlement or determination, a claimant has the option of bringing enforcement proceedings through the Courts.
The Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006 provides for mediation settlements (if signed by a Weathertight mediator) to be enforced through the District Court, and for adjudication determinations to be enforced through either the District Court or High Court (depending on the amount) "in the same manner as an order made or judgment given" by that Court.
2. Enforcement in the District Court
The first step in bringing enforcement proceedings is to lodge a certified copy of the mediation settlement or adjudication determination with the appropriate Court. This is a copy signed by the mediator or adjudicator.
The Court will best be able to explain the various enforcement options available, and the applicable fees - please see Ministry of Justice - Collecting your civil debt for further information.
3. Other enforcement options
Orders for monetary sums may also be enforced by enlisting a private debt collection agency. Claimants should contact private debt collection agencies directly for further information about this option.
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Other resolution options
There is no obligation on a claimant to use the dispute resolution process or the Weathertight Homes Tribunal. Claimants can also use:
- the Financial Assistance Package
- the court system
- the Disputes Tribunal (if your claim is for an amount less than $15,000 or less than $20,000 if everyone involved agrees to participate)
- private negotiation
- private mediation or arbitration.
Claimants do not have to close their claim while they try these other options. However, a claimant cannot undertake adjudication with the Weathertight Homes Tribunal while they are undertaking proceedings through the courts or the Disputes Tribunal.
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