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Enforcing a Disputes Tribunal decision

Our guide to taking a claim to the Disputes Tribunal when a trade goes wrong.

21 August 2023

We'll always try to help you resolve a trade, but if we can't, the Disputes Tribunal can help.

It’s always a shame when things go wrong and Trade Me members are forced to head to the Disputes Tribunal to resolve trades.

We'll always do our best to help members resolve things, but sometimes the best way to do this is with the help of a professional and independent mediator, like a Disputes Tribunal referee.

When a trade goes to the tribunal

Most disputes are about the condition of goods, or failure to go through with a trade following a successful auction.

The Disputes Tribunal is often in the best position to assess the merits of a case from all angles, and both parties get the opportunity to present their case.

If an agreement is made, both parties can agree to an Attachment Order to pay off the debt.

It's worth knowing Disputes Tribunal decisions are Court orders, and there are consequences for non-compliance.

How Trade Me can help

We take compliance with Disputes Tribunal decisions seriously.

If you've been to the Disputes Tribunal over a trade and the other party hasn't complied with any orders by the date required, we want to hear about it.

When you get in touch with us:

  • Attach a copy of the signed Disputes Tribunal decision.
  • Make sure you've done everything required of you as part of the decision (e.g. supplying a bank account number or returning the goods).

What can happen if someone fails to comply with a Disputes Tribunal decision?

If a decision isn't followed, you can:

  • apply to the District Court to enforce the Order
  • hire a debt collection agency to collect any payment that you are owed.
  • get a lawyer to act for you. A formal letter from a lawyer may be enough to get the decision followed.

Enforcing an order

To enforce an Order, you'll need to apply to the District Court to collect civil debt. We can restrict or suspend the account of any member who doesn't comply with a Disputes Tribunal decision.

What should I do if a decision has been made against me?

If a Disputes Tribunal decision has been made against you, the best thing you can do is settle it right away.

If you don't, you risk:

  • Losing your Trade Me membership.
  • The other party taking further legal action against you.

Need to make a claim?
We can help you take your case to the Disputes Tribunal.
Find out how