Important COVID-19 Update: specialist service launched for commercial lease disputes


9 April 2020: In light of increasing demand, NZDRC has today launched a new reduced cost and fixed fee arbitration and mediation service to assist parties to commercial leases who find themselves in a dispute as to their payment obligations due to the ongoing lockdown.

Further information may be found here or by contacting our Registry staff.

He waka eke noa.

In many instances, speedy dispute resolution will be of utmost importance for parties. If a dispute is not resolved promptly it may threaten a party’s solvency or ability to conduct ‘business as usual’.

In response to this need, a number of overseas arbitral institutions have introduced the concept of an ‘emergency arbitrator’. Under those procedures, at the request of a party an emergency arbitrator is appointed to determine applications for urgent interim relief before the arbitral tribunal is constituted. Once the application is dealt with, the ‘emergency arbitrator becomes functus.

NZDRC and  NZIAC have responded to the demand for urgency in a different, and we would say, a more practical and certain way. The 2018 Rules provide for the urgent appointment of an arbitrator to deal with applications for Urgent Interim Relief before the arbitral tribunal has been constituted in the ordinary course under the Rules. Under this procedure – at the request of a party – NZDRC or NZIAC will appoint an arbitrator from a specialist panel to determine the application. The arbitrator must endeavour to make any interim order or award within five days of appointment. However, unlike the rules of other institutions, the same arbitrator (unless otherwise agreed by the parties) will continue to act as either sole or Presiding Arbitrator for the remainder of the arbitration.

This process strikes a balance between meeting demands of urgency and ensuring that time and efficiency is not needlessly wasted through a change of arbitrator. As with all other forms of interim relief, any award or order made in respect of an application for Urgent Interim Relief may be modified, suspended, or cancelled by the Arbitral Tribunal at a later time. However, after an application for Urgent Interim Relief has been determined, the arbitrator who has been appointed for that purpose may be removed by agreement of the parties thus preserving the parties’ inherent right to choose their arbitrator.

NZDRC and NZIAC have established a specialist panel for the purposes of making expedited appointments in cases involving applications for Urgent Interim Relief. The panel is comprised largely of former members of the judiciary in order to instil confidence in the process.

For domestic arbitrations, and for parties who choose to arbitrate on an ad hoc basis under the Arbitration Act 1996, NZDRC’s appointment process is designed to be efficient allowing for urgent appointments to be made within 24 hours, again providing parties and their counsel with a time efficient option to ensure that those parties are able to access a prompt and professional arbitration service at all times.

Urgent interim relief

In many instances, speedy dispute resolution will be of utmost importance for parties. If a dispute is not resolved promptly it may threaten a party’s solvency or ability to conduct ‘business as usual’. In response to this need, a number of overseas arbitral...

Rent relief in the COVID-19 lockdown

Fast, low cost, fixed fee arbitration services for commercial rent/lease disputes

Farm Debt Mediation Bill passed into law

By Sophie Hursthouse   The Farm Debt Mediation Act passed its third reading on 10 December, establishing a scheme that requires mediation to be attempted before lenders may proceed to enforce farm debt. The legislative scheme promises to be a positive development...

Ten years in a leaky boat– lucky just to keep afloat

By John Green In 1982 Split Enz released its now famous single Six Months in a Leaky Boat being a reference to the time it took pioneers to sail to New Zealand (it had nothing at all to do with being an attack on Britain’s invasion of the Falkland Islands which caused...

Avoiding conflict and improving dispute resolution for IT projects

By Gerard Doolin Introduction The commercial design, build, and delivery of software systems is about 50 years old. In contrast, the design, build, and delivery of physical buildings is about 4000 years old, with one of the oldest recognised buildings being the...


By Catherine Green, Arbitrator and Mediator, Executive Director at NZDRC   During the course of a commercial tenancy, disputes often arise between landlords and tenants in relation to the parties’ obligations under the lease to maintain and repair premises,...

Arbitration and Mediation of Disputes Involving Trusts Get the Green Light in New Zealand

In a watershed moment on Wednesday of this week, the New Zealand Parliament passed the Trusts Bill which contains unique and important provisions that expressly provide for arbitration and mediation of internal and external disputes involving trusts, including for...

Managing Conflict

It is essential for all good leaders to know how to manage conflict. The common issue I see is, people ignoring it in the hope it will resolve itself and eventually go away. This has the opposite effect, and just makes it worse. So why does this happen so often? Why...

Arbitrator Breached Duty to Act Fairly by Seeking an Opinion From a Third Party and Conducting his Own Research

BY RICHARD BAMFORTH AND LIZ WILLIAMS  The Commercial Court has remitted an award to the arbitrator for reconsideration on the basis of serious irregularity after the arbitrator sought the opinion of a third party and conducted his own research without notifying the...