Making a Disputes Tribunal claim as a buyer

If you want to make a Disputes Tribunal claim against a seller – we can help.


Outside our Buyer Protection policy, Trade Me doesn't have the legal power to enforce a trade. Where we're not able to help, the Disputes Tribunal can step in.

Before turning to the Disputes Tribunal for help, we recommend following our dispute resolution process first.

How it works

The Disputes Tribunal helps settle disputes so you don't have to go to court. It's less formal and usually faster than going to court.

No need to stress – it's not quite the same as going to court. The Tribunal is less formal and tries to help both sides reach an agreement together.

A dispute might be because:

  • The seller pulled out of the trade.
  • The goods or services were not as described.
  • The goods or services were paid for but not supplied.

There might be other reasons for a dispute, where the Disputes Tribunal can help – but they don't collect debt.

The process is straightforward:

  1. A trained referee hears your dispute.
  2. A solution to the dispute is decided upon.
  3. An enforceable order is issued.

If you're both in the same location, you can both meet with the referee. Remote options can also be arranged in some situations.

Learn more about the Disputes Tribunal External link icon

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During the Tribunal process, you'll be called the applicant – and the seller the respondent.

Starting the claim process

Ways you can apply:

You'll need to pay an application fee. The amount depends on how much money you're seeking from the seller.

If your claim is about a vehicle bought from a registered trader, or a trader who meets the criteria External link icon – you'll need to apply to the Motor Vehicle disputes Tribunal External link icon.

To apply, you'll need:

  • basic-tick-framed-16-medium.svgTo know your nearest District Court.
  • basic-tick-framed-16-medium.svgYour name, address, and phone number.
  • basic-tick-framed-16-medium.svgThe seller's name, address, and phone number.
  • basic-tick-framed-16-medium.svgDetails about the dispute, and how you've tried to resolve it.

There are a few other things that are good to have for your claim. Learn more External link icon

I don't have the seller's details

Trade Me can, at its absolute discretion, release this information directly to you or to the Disputes Tribunal for this purpose.

We take privacy seriously and will only do this where necessary.

To request these details from us:

  1. Download and complete a statutory declaration form Download icon
    This states that you need the seller's details so you can file a claim with the Disputes Tribunal – and will only use them for that purpose.

  2. Take the form to your local court
    – Sign the form in front of a Registrar or Deputy Registrar.
    – Have the form signed and stamped by the Registrar or Deputy Registrar.

  3. Send the form to us
    Online or by post:
    Trust and Safety
    Trade Me
    PO Box 11042


Most statutory declarations are processed within five business days. Mail-in forms will take longer.

If your request is granted, we will:

  • Email you the seller's details in a PDF.
  • Notify the seller – if we've released their details.


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What happens next?

The Disputes Tribunal will process your application. They'll notify you and the respondent, once a time and place for the hearing have been set.


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After a decision has been made

We take Disputes Tribunal decisions seriously – and can help with enforcing them.

If you let us know the outcome of your claim, we may be able to take further account action against the seller. For privacy reasons, we can't share what actions we do or don't take.

Find out what to do if the respondent hasn't followed a decision External link icon

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