The financial jurisdiction of the Disputes Tribunal has been doubled to $30,000 from 29 October 2019.
The Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Act Commencement Order (No 2) 2019, made on 23 September 2019, brought the remaining provisions of the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Act 2018 into effect from 29 October.
Among the amendments was one to section 10 of the Disputes Tribunal Act 1988, increasing the jurisdiction. Associate Justice Minister Aupito William Sio says the change is so more disputes can be resolved in a less expensive, simple and quick manner. Previously the Disputes Tribunal could deal with disputes of $15,000 or less, or up to $20,000 if all parties agreed.
The option of submitting a claim for a higher amount, previously up to $20,000, with the consent of all parties has been removed.
In another change, Disputes Tribunal enforcement fees will have to be paid upfront when applying for enforcement of Tribunal orders. This change has been designed to make collection of fees more transparent and easier to ensure that the fee has been paid.
Approved forms instead of prescribed forms may also be used. Tribunal forms are being redesigned and formatted to ensure they are easier to use, in plain English, and available online.
Only one Disputes Tribunal rehearing will now be available to a party, unless a Referee considers that the interests of justice warrants more than one.
The time frame for filing an appeal in the District Court has changed from 28 days to 20 working days.
The fine for failing to give evidence has been increased from $500 to $1,000.
Other tribunal changes
A number of other changes to the law relating to tribunals have also come into force on 29 October.
Section 243 of the 2018 Act has given the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal has been given the power to award compensation of up to $100,000 for financial losses caused by a real estate agents' unsatisfactory conduct.
Section 204 of the 2018 Act has given the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority the power to discipline unsatisfactory conduct such as bullying, as well as more serious misconduct.
The Courts Matters Act Commencement Order 2019 made on 23 September 2019 also brought the remainder of the Courts Matters Act 2018 into force from 29 October 2019.
From 29 October the Act has amended the Summary Proceedings Act 1957 to introduce simpler processes for placing charges on real property, such as land, and forcibly selling real property to enforce large overdue fines.