1. Purpose and Scope
These rules are designed to provide a simple, fair and orderly procedure for hearing and deciding cases brought before the Vermont New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board (“the Board”). It governs all proceedings pursuant to 9 V.S.A. 4170-4181 as amended.
2. Clerk of the Arbitration Board
The New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board‘s administrator shall serve as clerk of the Board (“the Clerk”). Inquiries to and filings with the Board shall be addressed to the Clerk.
3. Manufacturer’s Filing
All motor vehicle manufacturers doing business in Vermont shall file their corporate or eastern zone office address, telephone and facsimile numbers and any other means of contact with the Clerk. A manufacturer shall also file a copy of the procedures, if any, and any descriptive material for its alternate dispute resolution process, including address, phone and facsimile numbers, and any other means of contact.
4. Request for Hearing
A consumer may request an arbitration hearing before the Board in writing on a form prescribed by the Board. The request, accompanied by the required supporting documentation, shall be filed with the Board with a copy to the manufacturer. The consumer shall indicate on the form the relief requested, either a refund or a replacement vehicle.
5. Manufacturer’s Answer
The manufacturer shall file a written response with the Board with a copy to the consumer within five days prior to hearing. The response shall be on the prescribed form and clearly set forth any defenses. Defenses not set forth in a manufacturer’s answer may be deemed waived and may not be considered by the Board.
6. Notice of Hearing
The parties will be notified of the date, time and location of the hearing by mail, facsimile or electronic mail. “Receipt” of the demand for arbitration from the consumer is attained when required supporting documentation has been filed or after request for the information by the Clerk is fulfilled.
Continuances may be granted only for good cause. Requests for continuances must be in writing and be received by the Clerk at least three days prior to the scheduled hearing, except in the most extraordinary circumstances. The Board authorizes the Clerk, in his or her discretion, to grant or deny continuances.
8. Withdrawal of Hearing Request
A consumer may withdraw his or her request for a hearing by written notice to the Clerk for good cause.
By at least three days prior to hearing, each party shall provide all documents and records that are relevant to the issues raised by the demand for arbitration to each other and the Board. The manufacturer shall file copies of any Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs), special service statements or similar documents that apply to the consumer’s claimed defect(s) after receipt of the consumer’s Demand form. Unless otherwise determined by the Board or the Clerk, all written requests to the manufacturer or dealer for documents shall be honored. Objections to the production of documents and records shall be directed to the Clerk. In his or her discretion, the Clerk may either rule on the objection or refer the matter to the Board.
10. Pre-hearing Conferences
A pre-hearing conference may be scheduled by the Board or at the request of the Clerk or any party. The intent of the conference is to resolve preliminary issues and, when appropriate, provide for the exchange of information. Pre-hearing conferences may be held by the Clerk or a person designated by the Chair of the Board. Conferences may be held in person or by an acceptable alternative means, e.g. telephone conference call.
11. Conduct of the Hearing
The Board shall conduct a hearing on issues for decision. A Board member shall administer an oath to all persons testifying. Each party shall have the opportunity to examine all documents or records presented prior to hearing as part of the filing; to produce witnesses and cross-examine witnesses through the Board; to present all relevant evidence prior to hearing; to advance any arguments, either oral or written; and to rebut opposing evidence.
The admission of any relevant evidence of a type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent people in the conduct of their affairs shall be allowed. The Board may exclude evidence that is irrelevant or unduly repetitious. The Board is not required to employ the Vermont Rules of Evidence.
13. Repair Orders
All repair orders submitted by the consumer shall be presumed to be accurate copies of the originals.
14. Record for Decision
All hearings shall be tape-recorded. The evidence and argument presented at the hearing plus any knowledge gained from any inspection or test drive of the motor vehicle shall constitute the basis for decision.
For purposes of appeal, arrangements for a transcription of oral proceedings shall be made by the Clerk on written request. A party requesting a transcript shall pay the reasonable cost of transcription.
The members of the Board constitute the hearing authority, and a majority of the board constitutes a quorum. Upon considering the evidence and arguments, the Board shall determine whether the consumer is entitled to a refund, a replacement vehicle or no relief. The decision of the Board shall be mailed by certified mail to the consumer and transmitted by facsimile to the manufacturer.
17. Election of Chairperson and Vice Chairperson
Board members will elect a chairperson and vice chairperson annually in January. Chairperson duties include signatory authority for orders and Board expense accounts. The vice chairperson shall exercise these tasks in the absence of the chairperson.
18. Attendance at Hearings
If a party does not appear for a hearing at the time and place scheduled, the Board may permit the party in attendance to present evidence. The Board may render its decision in the case on the basis of the existing evidence.
The notice to consumers required by 9 V.S.A. § 4180 shall be in a form specified by the Board.