Preparing your case
A Word of Advice on preparing to take your consumer complaint to the Disputes Tribunal.
26 October 2010
Are you pulling your hair out trying to get a refund on a faulty item? Or is the plumber insisting you pay him even though he didn’t finish the job?
You can take cases like these to the Disputes Tribunal where the Referee will help you and the trader sort out the problem or make a decision for you. You can claim up to $15,000, or up to $20,000 if the other party agrees and it costs between $30.67 - $102.22 depending on how much you are claiming.
It’s important to be prepared when you go to the Disputes Tribunal. You can’t have a lawyer with you and you must explain your claim to the Referee yourself. So you need to have all the evidence and be able to explain what the problem is and why you believe you are right.
Proving your case
You need to prove that the shop owner or tradesperson is at fault. Find out what your rights are at www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz or by going to your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Plan what you will say at the hearing. Start by writing down what happened along with the dates and times.
Collect anything that will help you prove your case, such as an advertisement that misled you, and the receipt to prove that you bought it from that trader. You can ask a witness to give evidence for you.
Who can help me?
If you are under 18 or have a disability, you can request to bring someone to speak for you. The person can’t be a lawyer though. You need to get permission from the Disputes Tribunal staff first, and it’s best to do this as early as possible. If you need an interpreter, you need to apply for one in writing at the Disputes Tribunal. This is a free service but make sure you have this organised well beforehand.
If you want help preparing for the hearing you can go to a Citizens Advice Bureau or a community law centre. You can ask staff at the District Court about the Disputes Tribunal process. You can also get advice from a lawyer.