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When your business brings a dispute claim to the Disputes Tribunal, you will receive a tribunal order. An order is a legally binding written decision that details how you must settle your dispute with a customer or other business. However, there may be circumstances where parties do not follow this order. This article will outline the steps your business can take to enforce a Disputes Tribunal order.

1. Contact the Other Party

If the disputing party has failed to comply with the tribunal order, you should contact them. The Disputes Tribunal will not check to see if the other party has abided by its decision. That is why you must obtain the other party’s contact details during the dispute process. These details include:

  • a home and work address;
  • a phone number;
  • an email address; and
  • the details of any vehicles they own. 

You can write a letter or email to this party detailing:

  • that they have not complied with the tribunal order; and
  • the steps you will take if the other party does not comply with the order.

Alternatively, you can get your business’s lawyer or representative to write a formal letter on your behalf.

It is against the Disputes Tribunal rules to enforce the tribunal order until the deadline in the decision issued by the Tribunal has passed. However, you can remind the other party to follow the contents of the decision and what may happen if they do not follow it. 

2. Contact the Disputes Tribunal

The Disputes Tribunal will not force the other party to fulfil the tribunal order. However, if the order requires that party to complete work, the Tribunal will be able to order that party to pay you instead. 

For example, the other party was required to repair the damage that they inflicted to your business’s premises or complete work that they were contracted to do. The Disputes Tribunal would be able to calculate the cost of this work and order that party pay you that amount. 

You can do this by completing a ‘request to enforce work order’ form which can be found on the Disputes Tribunal website. 

3. Debt Collection Agency

Once the deadline in the Tribunal’s decision has passed, you can go to a debt collection agency to:

  • buy the debt. The agency will pay the amount and replace you as the creditor to this other party; or
  • collect the payment on your behalf. You can add any fees that the agency may charge you on to the amount the other party owes you. 

If the tribunal order requires the other party to do work, you will have to ask the Tribunal for payment before you can go to a debt collection agency.

4. Apply to the District Court

If these methods prove unsuccessful, you can get the District Court to enforce your tribunal order. Similar to the Disputes Tribunal, the District Court will not automatically check to see whether tribunal orders have been complied with.

To enforce your tribunal order, you will have to apply for a financial assessment hearing. In a financial assessment hearing, the court will assess the other party’s finances and determine a method through which you can be repaid. The court may:

  • require the other party to pay the money owed in instalments;
  • get in touch with the other party’s employer or Work and Income to transfer money from their wages, salary or benefit to your business. This process is an attachment order; or
  • issue a warrant to seize the other party’s property and sell it to repay the money that you are owed. 

To apply for a financial assessment hearing, you will have to:

  • fill out the financial assessment hearing application form. You can find this form on the Ministry of Justice website; 
  • pay a filing fee. However, if you are applying to enforce a Disputes Tribunal order, you will not have to pay a filing fee. This amount will be added to the amount that the other party owes you; and 
  • post this form to the Ministry of Justice. 

Key Takeaways

A tribunal order is intended to resolve the dispute that your business brings to the Disputes Tribunal. However, there may be instances where the other party involved in the dispute does not abide by this order. In such circumstances, you can:

  • get in contact with that party directly, or through your lawyer;
  • contact the Disputes Tribunal to change the order from requiring work to be done to payment; 
  • use a debt collection agency; or 
  • apply to the District Court to enforce the order. 

If you need assistance with enforcing a tribunal order, contact LegalVision’s disputes lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enforce a Disputes Tribunal order?

To enforce a Disputes Tribunal order, you can get in contact with the disputing party directly, or through your lawyer; contact the Disputes Tribunal to change the order from requiring work to be done to payment; use a debt collection agency; or apply to the District Court to enforce the order.

Are tribunal decisions legally binding?

The Disputes Tribunal decisions are legally binding. However, the Tribunal cannot enforce these decisions. You will have to go to the District Court to enforce a tribunal order.

Who makes the decision in a tribunal?

The decision in the Disputes Tribunal is made by a referee. Referees are not judges but are legally qualified. Referees use dispute resolution processes, such as arbitration, to settle disputes.

What is a financial assessment hearing? 

A financial assessment hearing is a hearing in which the District Court assesses the finances of the party that has not complied with their tribunal order and determines a method through which you can be repaid.

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