The most common complaints we make

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 12:56 19/12/2013

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The Justice Ministry has put a selection of Disputes Tribunal rulings that have been handed down over the past four years online, providing a glimpse into the arguments New Zealanders get into with companies and with one another.

The tribunal provides a means for people to get redress for minor wrongs without having to go to the expense of hiring a lawyer and going to court, and handles about 16,000 cases a year.

Claims over car crashes, faulty goods and fencing disputes dominate, according to the sample cases posted on the web, but animals also appear a major source of friction.

The online records reveal a truck driver was compensated $7523 after his vehicle hit cattle that had escaped through a poorly-secured farm gate, one of several such claims.

Disputes over dog fights also appear common. A dog owner was ordered to pay $731 in vet bills after a dog fight ended in one dog having to be put down. A counter claim for vet bills and a loss of stud fees that the resulted from the applicant repeatedly hitting the respondent's dog on the head with a rock while it held their dog between its teeth failed.

In another dispute, a golfer took a female golfer to the Disputes Tribunal after being dissatisfied with the manner in which she expressed an opinion about a rule at their golf club that was the subject of a wager. That claim was struck out.

The trade-off for the convenience of the Disputes Tribunal is that its rulings do not create a legal precedent in the same way as regular court cases.

But Courts Minister Chester Borrows said putting some cases online and allowing people to search them by "keyword" could help people understand what might happen if they make a claim.

It has been possible to file claims with the Disputes Tribunal over the internet since October last year.

The maximum value of awards that can be made by the tribunal was increased from $12,000 to $20,000 in August.

The rulings can be found here.

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- Fairfax Media

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