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You might expect the Disputes Tribunal to make a determination about a dispute in three situations:

1. where it is not appropriate to help the parties negotiate a settlement;

2. where the parties cannot agree to settle; and

3. where the Disputes Tribunal does not approve a settlement.

If someone does not comply with a Disputes Tribunal determination then you should consider your enforcement options. Tribunal determinations are binding and enforceable as though they are District Court judgments. See those parts of this text about enforcement generally , as well as the chapter on enforcement in the District Court for more about this.

The provisions of the Disputes Tribunals Act 1988 that relate to enforcement are sections 45 and 46:

45 Enforcement of orders except work orders

(1) Every order made by a Tribunal requiring a party to pay money or deliver specific property to another party shall be deemed to be an order of the District Court of which the Tribunal is a division, and, subject to this section, may be enforced accordingly.

(2) Where application is made to a District Court for the issue of any process to enforce an order provided for by section 19(3) (requiring a party to pay money to another as an alternative to compliance with a work order), the Registrar shall give notice of the application to the other party against whom enforcement is sought.

(3) If that party does not file in the court, within the period prescribed for so doing, a notice of objection in the prescribed form, the order may, after the expiry of that period, be enforced pursuant to subsection (1).

(4) The notice referred to in subsection (3) may only be given on the ground that it is the belief of the party that the order of the Tribunal has been fully complied with and that that party therefore disputes the entitlement of the applicant to enforce it.

(5) If the party against whom enforcement is sought files the notice referred to in subsection (3) within the prescribed time, the Registrar shall refer the matter to the Tribunal to be heard and determined under section 46(2).

46 Enforcement of work orders

(1) Where –

(a) a party in whose favour a work order has been made considers that the work order has not been complied with by the other party; and

(b) that other party has not complied with the alternative money order provided for by section 19(3), –

the party in whose favour a work order was made may, instead of applying to the District Court for the issue of a process for enforcement pursuant to section 45(1), lodge in the Tribunal a request in the prescribed form that the work order be enforced.

(2) Subsequent proceedings shall be taken on a request for enforcement under subsection (1) and on a notice under section 45(5) as if such request or notice were a claim lodged under section 24; and upon the hearing of the matter the Tribunal may –

(a) vary the work order, or make a further work order, or any other order that is authorised by section 19:

(b) grant leave to the party in whose favour the work order was made to enforce the alternative money order provided for by section 19(3), or so much of that order as the Tribunal may allow, and either subject to or without compliance with the provisions of section 45(2): 

(c) discharge any order previously made by the Tribunal.

(3) After the expiration of 12 months from the date of a work order, it shall not be enforced without the leave of the Tribunal.

Filing fees for enforcement

Section 48 of the Disputes Tribunals Act 1988 waives filing fees for enforcing Disputes Tribunal orders and settlements as follows:

Notwithstanding section 113 of the District Courts Act 1947, no filing fee shall be payable by a person who, pursuant to section 45(1) or section 47(1), seeks to enforce an order or a term of an agreed settlement, but any fee that would otherwise be payable therefor shall be recoverable from the opposite party for the credit of a Crown Bank Account.

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