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Making a claim for arbitration under a code of practice

This advice applies to Wales

Arbitration is one way of settling a dispute between you and the trader without having to go to court. Both you and the trader have to stick to the terms of the decision and pay any money you owe.

The arbitrator's decision is final. If you don’t agree with it, you won't be able to take your case to court.

Many trade associations offer arbitration under a code of practice to help settle consumer problems. The code of practice is a set of agreed rules decided by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).

This page tells you about how to fill in the claim form when you’ve decided to apply for arbitration under a code of practice.

Time limits

Some arbitration schemes have a time limit for making a claim. This should be checked. You should ask for details of the rules of the scheme and a copy of the code of practice, if there is one, from the trade association concerned. If the time limit has expired, you could think about taking court action.

Filling in the claim form

It's important that you use the claim form to give as much information as you can about the problem. Claim forms may differ depending on which arbitration service you are using. Include:

  • the details of the goods or service you bought
  • how much they cost
  • when you bought them
  • where you bought them
  • what is wrong with them
  • anything that was said when you bought them that might help your case
  • any supporting evidence, such as receipts, witness statements, photographs, letters or test reports
  • the amount you are claiming, including the fee for arbitration and any interest you are owed
  • details of the trader’s response to your complaint and any comments you want to make about what they’ve said.

Setting out your claim for arbitration

Take care to give as much information as you can in your application. This is because there won't usually be a hearing so you and the trader can't tell your sides of the story in person. The arbitrator will make a decision based only on:

  • your written claim
  • the written defence of the trader
  • all the supporting evidence.

The form may ask you what you would like the trader to do. This could be:

  • give you an apology
  • give you an explanation of what went wrong
  • a replacement for your faulty goods or service
  • take some action
  • give you money.


Enclose two copies of any documents you think might help your case. Don’t forget to keep copies for yourself. It’s a good idea to number the supporting documents in order, so that they can be found easily if you refer to them on the application form. Evidence can include:

  • brochures, receipts, orders, letters and advertisements
  • photographs showing the fault
  • experts reports
  • witnesses statements.

Returning the claim form

You'll need to send the claim form back within the time limit, usually between 21 and 28 days depending on the scheme you are using.

Some arbitration schemes are free but others charge a small amount. This varies depending on what scheme you are using.

Problems returning the form

If you miss the deadline, the arbitrator will contact you and give you an extra 14 days to return the form.

If there’s a problem with returning the form, you should get in touch with arbitrator. If you fail to return it after they’ve given you extra time, your claim will be dropped unless there is a very good reason.

Telling the trader about the claim

When you have sent back the form, a copy will be sent to the trader. They have between 21 and 28 days to prepare their defence and return it with any supporting evidence. If they miss the deadline, they will also be given a further 14 days to reply. If they don’t respond, the case will be decided only on your claim and the evidence you’ve provided.

If the trader sends in a defence, you will be sent a copy of this and any evidence that the trader has sent in. You will have 14 days to comment on what they’ve said. You can ask the trader and the arbitrator for extra time to do this if you need to.

Next steps

Further help and contacts

IDRS Limited

International Dispute Resolution Centre
70 Fleet Street

Tel: 020 7520 3809
Fax: 0845 1308 117

Chartered Institute of Arbitrators

12 Bloomsbury Square

Tel: 020 7421 7444
Fax: 020 7404 4023

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