On this page:

  • Appeals from the Disputes Tribunal
  • Filing fee for appeal
  • Appeal application form
  • Hearing allocation
  • Synopsis of submissions
  • Representation on appeal

An appeal is an application to a higher authority to alter or reverse the decision of a lower authority. The District Court hears appeals from Disputes Tribunal decisions. However, the grounds for appealing Disputes Tribunal decisions are far narrower than they are for appeals from other authorities such as the District and High Courts. The grounds are set out at section 50 of the Disputes Tribunals Act 1988:

(1)       Any party to proceedings before a Tribunal may appeal to a District Court against an order made by the Tribunal under section 18(8) or section 46(2) or section 47(3)(b), or against the approval by the Tribunal of an agreed settlement under section 18(3), or against the variation of a term of an agreed settlement under section 47(3)(a), on the grounds that –

(a)       the proceedings were conducted by the Referee; or

(b)       an inquiry was carried out by an Investigator –

In a manner that was unfair to the appellant and prejudicially affected the result of the proceedings.

(2)       Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), a Referee shall be deemed to have conducted the proceedings in a manner that was unfair to the appellant and prejudicially affected the result if –

(a)       the Referee fails to have regard to any provision of any enactment that is brought to the attention of the Referee at the hearing; and

(b)       as a result of that failure, the result of the proceedings is unfair to the appellant.

Like rehearings, any appeal must be filed “within 28 days of the making or the order or approval or variation appealed against” as required by section 50(3) of the Disputes Tribunals Act 1988:

(3)       An appeal shall be brought by a party by the filing of a notice of appeal, in the prescribed form, in the District Court of which the Tribunal is a division, within 28 days of the making or giving of the order or approval or variation appealed against, or within such further time as a District Court Judge may, on application, allow.

Filing fee for appeal

The filing fee for an appeal is $200 per Schedule 1 of the District Courts Fees Regulations 2009.

Appeal application form

You can download an appeal application form from the Disputes Tribunal website.

Generally, your application should include:

1. Details of your particular case in the Disputes Tribunal, such as:

1.1. Any reference number that the Tribunal has assigned to your case.

1.2. Who the parties to the case are and their contact details.

2. Details of the original hearing, such as:

2.1. The date and time when the hearing took place.

2.2. The location or ‘registry’ of the Tribunal where the hearing took place.

3. The reasons why you are making the application, and the reasons why it should be granted. For example:

3.1. that you brought a particular provision of a particular Act to the Referee’s attention in the course of your submissions; and

3.2. that the provision required an outcome that was different to what was decided by the Referee; and

3.3. that the Referee did not take the provision into account when reaching his or her decision; and

3.4. that, in failing to take the provision into account and making a decision other than as required by the provision, the Referee conducted the proceedings in a manner that was unfair to you and prejudicially affected the result.

4. Your contact details.

Appeal application form template

You can download an appeal application form template here.

Hearing allocation

Section 50 of the Disputes Tribunals Act 1988 provides that, when a notice of appeal is filed:

(4)       As soon as practicable after such notice of appeal has been filed, the Registrar shall lodge a copy of the notice in the Tribunal’s records relating to the proceedings.

(5)       The Registrar shall fix the time and place for the hearing of the appeal and shall notify the appellant.

(6)       A copy of every notice of appeal together with a notice of the time and place for hearing the appeal shall be served by the Registrar on every other party to the proceedings before the Tribunal, and each such party may appear and be heard.

(7)       The filing of a notice of appeal against an order or the approval of an agreed settlement or the variation of a term of an agreed settlement shall operate as a stay of any process for the enforcement of that order or that settlement or that variation, as the case may require, but the Tribunal may at any time, on the application of a party to the proceedings, order that any process may be resumed or commenced or, the process having been resumed or commenced, order that it be further stayed.

The Referee that made the decision in the Disputes Tribunal must then provide a report on the manner in which the case was conducted and the reasons why. The same goes for any Investigator involved in the case. This is provided for by section 51 of the Disputes Tribunals Act 1988.

Synopsis of submissions

It may be worthwhile to prepare, file and serve a synopsis of the points you feel you need to make at the appeal hearing. See those parts of this text dealing with synopses of submissions for more.

Representation on appeal

You might represent yourself or your corporation on appeal just as you did in the original Disputes Tribunal hearing. Lawyers are an alternative that would not have been available for the original hearing. They are allowed to represent appellants from the Disputes Tribunal by section 57 of the District Courts Act 1947.