In May 2014, more than 2,100 building consents were issued for work worth $1.2 billion. For builders, this was great news.
Business was booming, there were projects aplenty. You would follow your building contract, perform the work, get paid on time, get your code compliance certificate, and move on to your next profitable venture, right? But what happens when things go wrong? Where do you turn, and how do you build a path to resolution that will get you paid quickly, without spending a fortune? There are many dispute resolution options available and choosing the right path can save you time and money.
There is a limit on when you can recover money owed to you, or claim against another person for some sort of wrongdoing.
This is known as a “limitation period” and applies to all non-criminal legal proceedings. A limitation period is a ticking clock set by Parliament. When the clock stops, you will usually be prevented from commencing your claim in a Court or Tribunal (although you can continue a claim you have already started).
My impression is that our traditional justice system really only serves the very rich (wealthy individuals or medium-large corporations) and the very poor (those on legal aid).
That is because the legislators and the courts have become so concerned with ensuring there is a fair contest and getting the answer exactly right, that the system has become far too complex, expensive and time-consuming. For most people on limited budgets, what they want is some form of quick and dirty justice that sacrifices formality for the sake of economy and speed. They are content with a “near enough is good enough” outcome that allows them to put the matter behind them, and get on with their lives.
Consider this situation. You had a vacant section.
You wanted a house built on it - one of those trendy, Mediterranean-style plaster houses with the minimalist look on the outside. You engaged an architect, and she drew up a set of plans and specifications which you agreed to. You then hired a building company to build it, and a separate project manager to oversee the builder.
When you think of a warranty, you think of something a retailer offers his customers when they buy a new car or washing machine.
That is, a right to take the thing back if it breaks down, no questions asked, and have it repaired or get a new one. This right usually only lasts for a specified period of say 2, 3 or 5 years. The car or washing machine usually breaks down the week after that period expires. But be that as it may.
No-one likes being bullied, so we all like to hear stories of the little guy taking on the big guy, and beating him.
But in the cold light of reality, that doesn’t happen very often. Size usually does matter.
As adults, we encounter bullying in the business world in two situations. First, where a small business is being forced to accept the rules laid down by a much larger supplier or customer. Second, where an individual has received poor quality products or services from a supplier, and “can’t get no satisfaction” to quote Mick Jagger. What can we do about it?
When someone breaks the law and does you some harm as a result, you can sue them.
This is known as a “civil” as opposed to a “criminal” lawsuit, because it is you as a private citizen who is doing the suing, not the Police or some other Government agency. The law doesn’t require you to do something about it straight away, but it does require you not to delay forever. If you do take too long to do something about it, you will lose the right altogether.
Suing someone or defending yourself in court can be an expensive business.
That is because there are so many safeguards to ensure that the process is fair, that it takes forever to get to the finish line. And if you are sued, the frustrating thing is that, unless you can settle out of court (usually by paying your opponent to go away), you have to keep battling to prove your innocence right up until the point where the judge issues the verdict.
People tend to think of court cases as military confrontations, where the main weapons the protagonists use are intimidation and cunning.
While undoubtedly some of that does go on, our justice system actually goes to great lengths to try to prevent it. That is why court cases involve so much formality, time and expense.
If you have ever been involved in a court case then you will know what a time consuming, expensive and frustrating experience it is.
Over the centuries our system has become increasingly complex, much like the tax laws. And like the tax laws, it has to be complex because unscrupulous people always attempt to abuse it in some way, by distorting the truth, withholding important information, advancing outrageous arguments, and generally seeking an unfair advantage over their opponents.