What are the Small Claims Tribunals and how do they work?
If you have a simple Civil claim that you don’t feel is appropriate or large for the Magistrates Courts, District Courts or the High Court to handle, the Small Claims Tribunals provides a quick and inexpensive forum for the resolution of small claims between consumers and suppliers that arose within a year from the filing of the case.
The Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear certain categories of claims and claims up to a maximum of $10,000 (or up to a maximum of $20,000 if parties agree in writing).
The Small Claims Tribunals generally handles cases involving the following:
- A contract for the sale of goods
- A contract for a provision of services (note: services should involve skill and labour)
- Damage caused to property
- A contract for a lease of residential property which doesn’t exceed 2 years
It doesn’t handle claims resulting from the following matters:
- Hire purchase agreement
- Employment matters
- Purchase of stocks and shares
- Rental (except the lease of a residential property for a period up to a maximum of 2 years) or charters
- Legal fees
- Insurance claim
- Damage caused by use of a motor vehicle
A financial claim that is split or divided into a few claims to bring it within the Tribunals’ jurisdiction isn’t allowed.
The Claimant must submit a Claim Form. The other person against whom the claim is served is known as the Respondent.
Lawyers may not represent parties at Small Claims Tribunals’ hearings.
Both parties will be required to attend a Consultation before the Registrar who will attempt to mediate the dispute first.
If the claim cannot be resolved at Consultation, the matter will be fixed for Hearing on another day before a Referee.
After hearing both sides of the dispute, the Referee will decide the case and make an appropriate Order, which will be binding on both parties.
The Order of Tribunals will either demand a sum to be paid or for work to be done. Payment of a sum must generally occur within a specified time-frame. Failure to do so can result in an enforcement Order by Writ of Seizure and Sale.
An appeal against a Referee’s decision will be heard by the High Court and can only be made on a question of law or jurisdiction.
So there you have it, some basic information on the Small Claims Tribunals and how they work.