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Revised Court Rules lowers litigation costs

A new set of District Court Rules came into effect on July 1, 2014 replacing the existing District Court Rules 2009.

Stated to be significant, these changes will affect the civil legal procedures.

Previously, a set of downloadable PDF forms could be used to commence civil proceedings in the District Court. These forms often caused confusion amongst self-litigants and led to numerous claims not being framed in the correct manner, causing substantial delays.

This PDF form has been replaced with the requirement that three documents be submitted to commence civil legal action, namely (a) Notice of Proceeding (b) Statement of Claim and (c) A Preliminary list of documents.

In essence, the new District Court Rules have sought to have District Court commencement of proceedings mirror commencement of proceedings in the High Court.

Trials models

The new District Court Rules have retained the old provisions in relation to the different types of trials that can be heard in the District Court.

Cases can still be set down for short trials, simplified trials and full trials, depending on the complexity of the case.

It is rationalised that the retention of the short trials and simplified trials will continue to make proceedings cheaper and more cost effective for litigants.

In addition, the Summary Judgment procedure, which is a mechanism for getting speedy resolution and judgment in respect of straightforward claims in which defendants have no apparent defense, has been retained.

Early intervention

The 2014 Rules also allow judicial intervention (participation of the Court) at a much earlier stage in proceedings, as opposed to the old Rules, which specified judicial intervention late in proceedings, only after the matter was set down for hearing.

Once again, it is thought that this regime would streamline matters and reduce cost for litigating parties.

A Summary

What do these changes mean? The following Summary may help to understand the new District Court Rules better

Claims should be clear and well pleaded from the outset, and “scattergun” type claims can be all but ruled out. This again would prompt speedy resolution to matters, and avoid lengthy conferences to clarify points in pleadings.

Possible early resolution of disputes, by retaining summary judgment procedure and early judicial intervention

Easier avenues for straightforward debt collection cases, where money is owed and no payments have been received

With the more cost effective modes of trials being retained, it is hoped the overall cost of litigating civil disputes in the District Court can be kept down as much as possible.


Francis Peters is a Barrister and Solicitor in the Litigation Team of Corban Revell Lawyers. He frequently appears in the District Courts of Waitakere, North Shore, Manukau and Auckland District Courts. He has also appeared in the High Court for civil matters. Corban Revell Lawyers is the Sponsor (jointly with Nair & Chen Associates Chartered Accountants) of the ‘Business Excellence in Innovation’ category of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2014.

Corban Revell Lawyers provides comprehensive legal services including Commercial, Estate Planning, Family & Relationship Property (including Separation and Divorce), Immigration, Litigation, Maori Issues and Property & Conveyancing. The law firm also handles all issues relating to Franchising. For further information, please contact (09) 8370550; Email: info@corbanrevell.co.nz

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