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CONSUMER ARBITRATION RULES
Arbitration Services, Inc.

Preamble

The Consumer Arbitration Rules are intended to provide a mechanism for a simplified arbitration procedure where either the Claimant or the Respondent (or both) are consumers. For the purpose of interpreting these Rules a "consumer" shall be defined in the context of the laws of the State where the individual resides. The Consumer Arbitration Rules apply solely to those situations where goods or services have been rendered to an individual for personal or household use.

The purpose of this Consumer Arbitration is to resolve disputes between parties utilizing the guiding principal of rendering substantial justice to the parties to the dispute. As such, strict enforcement of evidentiary rules may be modified or waived by the individual arbitrator. Issues of the arbitrability of a claim shall be determined by the arbitrator, who shall have the discretion to dismiss a claim where he or she determines, among other reasons, that no binding obligation to arbitrate exists between the parties.

Rules

R1. General Statement: A Consumer related dispute may be submitted to arbitration under the Consumer Rules where either: (1) there is a written agreement between the parties authorizing the submission of the dispute to arbitration; and/or (2) where there is a State statute, law or rule which authorizes the submission of the dispute in question to arbitration. A "consumer" is defined by the laws of the State where the individual resides and is intended to apply to those instances where goods or services have been rendered to an individual for personal or household use.

R2. Initiation of a Claim: The filing party (the "Claimant") is required to notify the other party (the "Respondent") that he, she or it intends to submit a claim for determination under the Consumer Arbitration Rules. The Claimant shall serve on the Respondent a "Demand" for Arbitration, which shall be served in accordance with subdivision (e) of this Rule 2. The Demand should include the following information:

a. The Demand shall state the name, address, telephone number and contact person of the Claimant (if the Claimant is a business entity). If filed by an attorney on behalf of the Claimant, the name, address and other contact information of the attorney in charge of the matter shall appear on the Claim; and

b. The Claim shall provide a brief description of the nature of the dispute and shall have appended to the Claim a copy of the underlying written document which Claimant contends authorized the arbitration process; and

c. The amount of money sought by Claimant; and


d. The names and addresses of all witnesses in reasonable detail so as to allow the Arbitrator assigned to reasonably determine if a conflict exists; and

e. The Claimant must "serve" a copy of the Demand to Arbitrate on the Respondent(s) at his, her or their last known residence or business address by mail, with proof of service. For the purpose of these Rules, proof of service shall mean, Certified Mail (with or without Return Receipt) or other proof of mailing as authorized by the United States Postal Service. Claimant shall also send two copies of the Demand to Arbitrate together with proof of mailing in accordance with this Rule to Arbitration Services, Inc. at the time it sends the Demand to the Respondent. When sending a Demand to Arbitration Services, Inc., the Claimant must also send the appropriate administrative fees and deposits. A fee schedule can be found in Rule 11.

R3. Acknowledgment of Claim: Arbitration Services, Inc. shall confirm receipt of the Demand to Arbitrate and shall mail an additional copy of the Demand to Arbitrate to the Respondent at the address provided in the Demand, and shall simultaneously send an acknowledgment of receipt of the Demand to Arbitrate to Claimant, or, if applicable its counsel.

R4. Respondent's Answer: The Respondent may answer the Demand and may also file a counterclaim or set-off. The answer must be sent to Arbitration Services, Inc. by mail, telecopier or overnight mail within fifteen (15) calendar days after Arbitration Services, Inc. acknowledges receipt of Claimant's Demand, except that if a fee is required to be paid by the Respondent, the answer and the fee must be sent simultaneously to Arbitration Services by regular mail or overnight mail.

a. The answer must be sent simultaneously to Claimant or its counsel at the address indicted on the Demand to Arbitrate. The Respondent's answer shall provide a brief statement of the nature of Respondent's defense to the action. Where Respondent contends that he, she or they are not subject to arbitration, the answer shall, where appropriate, also include a brief statement as to the reason why Respondent contends that he, she or they are not required to submit the dispute to arbitration.

b. If the Respondent has asserted a counterclaim or set-off, it must state the nature of the counterclaim or set-off, the amount involved, and the remedy sought.

c. If no answer is filed within the stated time, Arbitration Services, Inc. will assume that the Respondent denies the claim.

d. Respondent must also send the appropriate administrative fees and deposits, if applicable. The fee schedule is set forth in Rule 11. Failure to pay the appropriate fees will result in a dismissal of any counterclaim or set-off.

R.5 Appointment of Arbitrator: Within ten days following receipt by Arbitration Services, Inc. of the Respondent's answer, or after Respondent’s time to respond has expired, an arbitrator shall be appointed to determine the dispute. Either party may object to the appointment of the assigned arbitrator for cause within seven days following the time that they are notified of the arbitrator’s appointment. The arbitrator appointed shall certify that there are no circumstances likely to affect his or her ability to render a fair and reasonable determination of the dispute based solely on the evidence produced.

R.6 Expedited Resolution: Except where a party has requested a hearing, the dispute shall be submitted to resolution based upon the documents submitted by each party. Any party, however, may request in writing that the dispute be resolved by a hearing, provided, however, that the appropriate fees accompany such request. The arbitrator may decide if a hearing is necessary. If the arbitrator determines that no hearing is necessary, the fee paid by the requesting party shall be refunded. The arbitrator may request that either or both parties submit additional documents. Failure of a party to submit such additional documents within ten (10) days from request by the arbitrator may result in the arbitrator determining the dispute by reference to the documents then part of the parties’ file, and without regard to the requested documents. The documents shall be submitted to Arbitration Services, Inc. for delivery to the arbitrator.

R.7 Hearing: Either party may request that the arbitrator hold a hearing by making written request to Arbitration Services, Inc. no more than twenty (20) days following the submission of Respondent’s answer or within twenty (20) days following the time when Respondent’s answer was otherwise due, if no answer has been filed. This hearing may be by telephone or in person at the discretion of the arbitrator if he or she determines that extraordinary or unusual circumstances exist, taking into consideration, among other things the physical locale of the parties and arbitrator. The arbitrator may conduct a hearing in the absence of a party but shall consider the previous submissions of the non-attending party.

R.8 Mandatory Hearing in Certain Cases: In all matters where any individual claim or Counterclaim exceeds Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00), exclusive of attorney’s fees, the claim and Counterclaim, if applicable, shall be required to be submitted to a hearing in accordance with Rule 7 and the Claimant or Respondent, as the case may be, shall pay the appropriate hearing fee at the time of submission of his, her or their demand or answer. Failure to pay the appropriate fee will result in a dismissal of the claim or Counterclaim or set-off, as the case may be.

R.9 Arbitrator’s Award: The arbitrator shall render his or her award, in writing and subscribed in accordance with applicable state law of the state where the arbitrator is located, within fifteen (15) days following completion of the hearing or submissions. A true and complete copy of the award shall be mailed to each party or their counsel, by Arbitration Services, Inc. within five (5) days thereafter. The arbitrator’s award shall include the provisions of the agreement or law which requires the submission of the parties’ dispute to arbitration and shall address each and every cause, claim or defense asserted by the parties. The award shall be final in nature and may thereafter be submitted for confirmation to a court of competent jurisdiction.

R.10 Attorney’s Fees and other costs: Except where prohibited by the laws of the State of Respondent’s residence, the arbitrator, in his or her discretion, may award attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party where:

(a) The agreement between the parties authorizes an award of attorneys’ fees to Claimant; and/or

(b) Relevant State law authorizes attorneys’ fees in matters of the nature submitted to the arbitrator for determination.
The arbitrator may also include in his or her award, an award for interest and filing/hearing fees.

R.11 Filing Fees:

(a) An initiating fee of $125.00 shall accompany the filing of a Demand for Arbitration.

(b) If Respondent desires to assert a Counterclaim or set-off, he, she or they shall include a counterclaim/set-off fee of $125.00 at the time of submission of the answer.

(c) If either party demands that the arbitrator conduct a hearing, he, she or they shall pay the sum of $350.00, together with the written demand for a hearing, in accordance with Rule 2. The arbitrator may require the party demanding the hearing to pay an additional deposit, where the arbitrator reasonably believes that the hearing will exceed two (2) hours of actual time.

(d) If the arbitrator determines that a hearing is required, the arbitrator may direct that either or both parties pay the required fees.

(e) If a party who is required to pay a fee fails to do so, the arbitrator may direct the other party to pay such fee and include reimbursement or set-off, as the case may be, in his or her arbitration award.

(f) Where a fee has been requested, and the appropriate fee paid, and the parties settle their dispute at least seven (7) days prior to the date scheduled for the hearing, the party paying the hearing fee shall be reimbursed the fee advanced. However, no refund shall be made where the matter is settled seven (7) or less days prior to the scheduled hearing.

(g) Reasonable adjournments of the hearing shall be granted. Other than in emergency situations, where a party or parties request an adjournment less than 48 hours prior to the scheduled hearing, the party or parties requesting the adjournment shall pay an adjournment fee of $125.00.

(h) Where a party against whom a default Award has been rendered requests that the default be vacated, the payment of an initial filing fee of $125.00 shall be paid and shall accompany the filing as provided in Rule 16.

(i) If a party fails to pay any fees for which he, she or it is obligated, the other party may be required to pay such fee and shall be awarded reimbursement or set-off in the amount of such payment, in the Award to be rendered in the matter.

R.12 Amendment to Claim or Counterclaim: No amendment to any claim, Counterclaim or setoff shall be permitted without either the consent of the arbitrator or the consent of all parties.

R.13 Adjournments: Adjournments may be granted solely by the arbitrator assigned in his or her discretion. The failure to grant an adjournment shall not prevent the arbitrator from rendering a determination based on the documentary or other evidence provided by the parties.

R.14 Stenographic Record: Arbitration Services, Inc., shall not provide stenographic or other record of the proceedings. Any party may make his, her or their own arrangements to have a hearing stenographically recorded provided that prior notice is given to the other party.

R.15 Notices: Notices shall be given by Arbitration Services, Inc. by mail, telephone, email or facsimile transmission, if mailed or sent to the last known address, telephone number or email address of the parties or their respective counsel.

R.16 Vacating Defaults: A party against who a default Award has been rendered may request that the default Award be vacated. Such request shall be in writing and mailed to Arbitration Services, Inc. together with the applicable payments as provided in Rule 11. A copy of Respondent’s Answer and proof of service on Claimant or his, her or its attorney must accompany Respondent’s submission. Where Claimant has already commenced Court proceedings to confirm the Award sought to be vacated, Respondent shall reimburse Claimant his, her or its actual out of pocket disbursements, excluding legal fees.

R.17 Discovery: Except in matters where the amount sought exclusive of attorney’s fees is in excess of $25,000, no discovery shall be authorized except as voluntarily agreed upon by the parties or as otherwise directed by the arbitrator. If discovery is authorized by the arbitrator it shall be limited to no more than five interrogatories (including sub-parts) and five document production requests.