Decision not in your favour

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The referee will give a written decision that shows how the dispute must be settled.

If the decision is against you it will set out what you must do and by when. This is called an ‘Order’ and is legally binding (you must follow it).

You and the other party will need to arrange how you’ll follow the Order. They may contact you to remind you what you need to do and what may happen if you don’t.

Rehearings and appeals

You may be able to get a rehearing or appeal the decision.

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If you don’t follow an Order

If you don’t follow the Order, the other party may:

  • apply to the District Court to enforce the Order
  • hire a debt collection agency to collect any debt
  • get a lawyer to act on their behalf.

They will not be able to enforce the Order until after any deadline you were given in the decision has passed.

You may need to pay court fees, interest and other costs

If you don’t pay money as you were ordered, the other party may enforce the debt through the District Court. There are fees for doing this. You will need to pay these fees as well as the original debt.

You may also have to pay interest on the debt or other costs if the other party needs to enforce the Order.

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Managing a court-ordered debt

Most Disputes Tribunal Orders are about the payment of money. One of the most important steps you can take when you owe a debt is to talk to the other party about your ability to pay.

If you can’t pay the debt in a lump sum (in one payment), or as set out in the Court Order, you may be able to arrange with the creditor or their agent to pay by instalments (smaller amounts over time). The creditor can refuse an arrangement like this.

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Using the District Court to manage the debt

Another option is to apply to the District Court for an arrangement to be set up. There are 2 ways you can do this:

Apply for payments to come directly from your income – Attachment Orders

If you are employed or get a benefit, you can ask the court to order that payments get deducted directly from your income and paid to the creditor. This is called an Attachment Order.

Show that you can’t afford to pay a lump sum – financial statements

An Attachment Order might not work for you if, for example, you don’t have a regular income. In that case you can give a financial statement to the court. A financial statement is a summary of your recent income, expenses and assets.

Your case would then be assessed to work out how you can best pay your debt.

Contacts for civil debt

To find out more:

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