Expert determination process

Expert determination is often used where there are disagreements or disputes involving specific technical, qualitative or quantitative issues. It is usually quick, inexpensive, informal, and confidential, which makes it an attractive method of resolving problems. It also helps preserve business relationships because it is not as confrontational as litigation and arbitration.

The decision made by the expert can be either final and must be followed (binding) or an opinion that the parties can choose to accept or ignore (non-binding).

Process Overview

Starting the process

The parties need to agree to engage in expert determination. They can do this before or after the dispute has arisen.

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Appointment of an expert

An expert will typically be appointed within 3 Working Days, or sooner for urgent cases.

Preliminary conference

The preliminary conference is intended to promote the efficient conduct of the process.

Submission of case

Each party will submit a written statement outlining the facts, evidence and legal arguments.

Inspections and site visits

Depending on the nature of the case, the expert may wish to inspect the subject matter or visit the relevant site.

Additional information

The expert may request further information from any party to aid their determination.


After the expert has received all the information they need, the expert will make their determination which may be binding or non-binding at the election of the parties.

Cost of expert determination

Our focus is on delivering cost-proportionate process solutions. Find out more about the cost of expert determination.

Step 1. Starting the process

To begin, both parties must agree to use the expert determination process. They can do this by including the New Zealand Dispute Resolution Centre (NZDRC) model expert determination clause in their contract. This clause allows any future disagreements or disputes to be settled using this process.

Even if they didn’t include the clause in their contract, they can still opt for expert determination by signing an agreement after a dispute arises.

If the parties agreed to expert determination before the dispute occurred, the person wanting to initiate the process (called the applicant) should send a Notice of Expert Determination to inform the other side that they want the matter resolved by an expert.

To start the process, the applicant applies to NZDRC. A Registrar will then be assigned to the case to assist the parties, their advisors and the expert throughout the expert determination process. 

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Step 2. Appointment of an expert

The New Zealand Dispute Resolution Centre (NZDRC) is responsible for appointing an expert unless the parties involved have already agreed on someone specific. This decision is made once NZDRC receives a completed application and payment of security for the expert’s fees and expenses. 

If the parties have someone specific in mind, that person must meet certain criteria, and NZDRC must approve them as being suitable, independent and impartial. 

When selecting an expert, NZDRC considers various factors, such as any agreements between the parties, the nature and value of the dispute, and the availability of the person to effectively and efficiently handle the case. The appointed expert must be impartial and independent of the parties. Any appointment by NZDRC is final and confirmed with a Notice of Appointment issued by the Registrar.