LEGAL REFEREE ONLINE MEDIATION CENTRE RULES
CHAPTER I – PRELIMINARY
Rule 1 – Applicability
Rule 2 – Communications
CHAPTER II – THE PROCESS
Rule 3 – Choice of Online Dispute Resolution
Rule 4 – Commencement
Rule 5 – Review
Rule 6 – Response
Rule 7 – Online Negotiation
Rule 8 – Online Mediation
Rule 9 – Termination
Rule 10 – Settlement through Mediation
CHAPTER III – ROLE OF PARTICIPANTS
Rule 11 – Role of Mediator
Rule 12- Role of Parties and their Representatives
Rule 13 – Role of Centre
CHAPTER IV – RULES RELATED TO MEDIATOR
Rule 14 – Appointment of Mediator
Rule 15 – Qualifications of Mediator
Rule 16 – Assignment of cases
Rule 17 – Removal of Mediator from Centre’s Empanelment
Rule 18 – Confidentiality
CHAPTER V – MISCELLANEOUS
Rule 19 – Fees
Rule 20 – Exclusion of Liability
Rule 21 – Amendments
Rule 1: APPLICABILITY
1. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre is conducted based on the Mediation Rules (the “Rules”).
2. The Rules apply where the Parties have agreed either by stipulation in a contract or by agreement or through electronic communication to submit to the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre or by reference from the Court/Commission or other forum to try to resolve their dispute.
3. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre accepts the cases arising out of electronic transactions involving commercial transactions, Intellectual property, property related matters, matters relating to employment, banking transaction or any other matters that Legal Referee Online Mediation Center may consider appropriate for alternative dispute resolution in India.
4. The Rules applies to both present and future disputes against e-commerce companies in India.
5. The Rules as in effect on the date of the commencement of the online dispute resolution in India shall apply.
Rule 2: COMMUNICATIONS
1. Every communication from the online platform shall be sent out through mail only, including the following steps request to review the case; acceptance/rejection of case; request to appoint mediator; appointment of mediator; communications made during the process of negotiation/mediation; uploaded files; settlement agreement etc.
2. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall not send any communication through post or print.
Rule 3: CHOICE OF ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre provides facilities for the parties to choose to settle their disputes either through negotiation or mediation or both.
1. The parties may first attempt to resolve their dispute amicably by mutual negotiations through the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre, failing which such dispute may be referred to the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre process.
2. The respondent may, at the time of response, provide any other relevant information, including information in support of its response to the dispute.
3. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre provides for both online negotiation/mediation and physical negotiation, at the request of the parties.
Rule 4: COMMENCEMENT
1. The initiating party or any person authorized on behalf of the initiating party to negotiate/mediate only shall participate in the process.
2. In order to access the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre platform, the party wishing to resolve a dispute against any e-commerce company through the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre must register their complaint with Legal Referee. (http://legalreferee.com/registration/)
3. The initiating party shall file a submission through the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre registration process as provided through the online platform. The submission should, as far as possible, be referred to such documents and other evidence relied upon by the claimant.
4. Details of registration shall comprise of:
• Name, address, State and Country, telephone, designated electronic address or other communication references of the parties to the dispute, details of the dispute and scanned copy of the Identity Proof.
• In case of the Business, there is no registration required.
5. The initiating party shall choose the e-commerce company against which claim is made and provide for Order no. / Bill No. / Purchase No. There is no bar on the number of cases that can be filed against a single company but claim or dispute on same order number/invoice number cannot be filed again.
6. Details of the Complaint shall comprise of
• Pending cases, if any, pursued against the party against whom the dispute is initiated with regard to the specific dispute;
• Purchase Date/Receipt Date
• Value of goods/services
• Nature of dispute
• Detailed description of the dispute
• Details of Opposite party
• Upload of relevant documents in support of the dispute, if any; and
• Relief sought
7. Together with the request and the registration details abovementioned, the party filing shall pay the registration fee as provided by the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre’s Fee Schedule upon acceptance by Legal Referee.
8. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall electronically acknowledge receipt of the request and the payment of fees.
9. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall notify the business against whom the case is initiated and invite for online dispute resolution process only after reviewing the case.
Rule 5: REVIEW BY LEGAL REFEREE ONLINE MEDIATION CENTRE
1. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre will review the case to check the eligibility and reject the cases if it is found to be outside the scope of the Centre or any other reason the Centre deems fit. While doing so, the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre may provide reasons for rejection of the case.
2. Only after the case is reviewed and accepted, an email notification/invite will be sent out to the business against whom the claim has arisen.
3. The process is voluntary and business may not agree to participate in the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre process. In these cases, there is will be no refund or transfer of the registration fees paid towards the case.
4. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre does not bear the responsibility nor promises that the business shall participate in the process. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre only acts as an intermediary providing a platform for the persons to reach out an amicable settlement.
Rule 6: RESPONSE
1. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre after accepting the case as abovementioned shall notify the party against whom the complaint is initiated within a maximum period of 7 days of receipt of the request.
2. The person authorized on behalf of the business to negotiate/mediate and make settlement only shall participate in the process.
Rule 7: NEGOTIATION
1. The negotiation process shall comprise of negotiation only between the parties, and their representatives if any.
2. The negotiation part consists two parts: a. make a settlement offer b. request to appoint a mediator and;
3. The parties are given seven days from the day of joining/acceptance of business to the platform to resolve among themselves.
4. The parties can directly opt for the appointment of mediator instead of negotiating. Only when the appointment of a mediator is requested, the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall appoint the Mediator within five working days. In case no attempt to appoint a mediator is made by either party after initiating the negotiation after 7 days, the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall send a message/email to the parties to make the request.
5. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall not appoint a mediator if the request is not received as the process of mediation is voluntary and party centric.
6. If no response is found as mentioned in 7 days, the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre Centre shall the deem the case to be not settled and shall close the case accordingly.
7. The process once settled as aforementioned cannot be reopened under any circumstance.
Rule 8: MEDIATION
1. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre acknowledges that the process of online mediation in India as provided by Legal Referee is voluntary and party centric. Also, the determination of outcome depends on parties and their claims as the process/online platform provided by Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre is strictly limited to structure and assistance.
2. The appointment of the mediator shall happen according to the chapter II of these rules.
3. The conduct of online mediation is left to be determined by the mediator in agreement with the parties.
4. The mediator may conduct joint or separate meetings with the parties.
5. At any time during the proceedings, the mediator may require or allow the parties (upon such terms as the mediator shall determine) to provide additional information, produce documents, exhibits or other evidence within such period of time as the mediator shall determine.
6. The mediator shall use his best effort to conclude the mediation within twenty-one (21) days of his appointment.
7. The parties may agree to a one-time extension of the mediation proceedings. However, no such extension shall be for more than fifteen (15) days.
8. The mediator shall not be bound by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 or the Evidence Act, 1872, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice, have regard to the rights and obligations of the parties, usages of trade, if any, and the circumstances of the dispute.
9. At any time during the process of mediation, if either of the parties is found to be irresponsive for 10 days or more, the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall deem the case to be not settled and shall close accordingly.
Rule 9: TERMINATION
1. The mediation shall be terminated:
1. by the signing of a settlement agreement by the parties covering any or all of the issues in dispute between the parties;
2. by the decision of the mediator if, in the mediator’s judgment, further efforts at mediation are unlikely to lead to a resolution of the dispute; or
3. by a written declaration of a party at any time after a first discussion of the parties with the mediator;
4. in any other mode as provided under these Rules.
2. Upon the termination of the mediation, the mediator shall promptly send to the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre a clear communication that the mediation is terminated and shall indicate the date on which it terminated, whether or not the mediation resulted in a settlement of the dispute and, if so, whether the settlement was full or partial. The mediator shall send to the parties a copy of the notice so addressed to the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre.
3. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall keep the said notice of the mediator confidential and shall not, without the written authorization of the parties, disclose either the existence or the result of the mediation to any person.
4. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre may, however, include information concerning the mediation in any aggregate statistical data that it publishes concerning its activities, provided that such information does not reveal the identity of the parties and mediator or enable the particular circumstances of the dispute to be identified.
Rule 10: SETTLEMENT THROUGH MEDIATION
1. Based on the settlement terms, the mediator may draw up a settlement agreement on the terms agreed by the parties and the parties may sign the settlement agreement. The mediator shall authenticate the agreement and furnish a copy to each party.
2. In a case of physical mediation, the Mediator shall promptly notify the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre of the signing of a settlement agreement by the parties or of any notification given to or by the mediator and shall provide the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre with a copy of any such notification.
3. When the parties sign the settlement agreement, it shall be final and binding on the parties and persons claiming under them. The settlement agreement shall have the same status as that of a settlement agreement that can be executed as provided under Section 73of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
4. In a case of court-referred mediation, where an agreement is reached between the parties in regard to the issues referred, the same shall be reduced to writing and shall be submitted by the Parties to the Court/Commission/Forum in which the suit is pending.
ROLE OF PARTICIPANTS
Rule 11: ROLE OF MEDIATOR
1. The mediator may conduct the mediation in such manner, as he considers appropriate, taking into consideration the circumstances of the case, the wishes of the parties and the need for a speedy settlement of the dispute.
2. The mediator shall upon approval from the party, may disclose all such information concerning the dispute received to the other party and the other party shall be given opportunity to present explanations.
3. The mediator shall attempt to facilitate voluntary resolution of the dispute between the parties and he shall not impose any terms of settlement on the parties.
4. The mediator is bound by the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre Code of Conduct.
5. The mediator shall be neutral, impartial and independent.
Rule 12: ROLE OF PARTIES AND THEIR REPRESENTATIVES
1. Each party and their representative shall act in good faith throughout the mediation.
2. The parties shall co-operate to enable the mediation to proceed and be concluded within the time stipulated.
3. The parties may be represented by persons authorized of their choice. Each party shall notify in advance the names and the role of such persons to the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre and the other party. The parties shall confer upon their representatives the necessary authority to participate and settle the dispute.
4. Parties may be represented by a counsel/advocate at any stage of the mediation process, and are encouraged to consult legal counsel concerning the proceedings or any proposed settlement agreements.
5. The parties shall be bound by the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre Code of ConductRule
13: ROLE OF LEGAL REFEREE ONLINE MEDIATION CENTRE
1. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre will make appropriate arrangements for mediation, including-
1. Appointment of mediators;
2. Provision of online infrastructure for parties to resolve disputes through mediation;
3. Enable exchange of information, documents and summaries between the parties and mediator through the online platform.
2. The role of the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre including online platform as mentioned is strictly limited to the structure and assistance.
Rule 14: CONFIDENTIALITY
1. All information, records, reports or other documents received by the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre Centre and the mediator will be confidential.
2. Any settlement agreement between the parties shall be kept confidential, except that a party shall have the right to disclose it to the extent that such disclosure is required by applicable laws of India or necessary for purposes of its implementation or enforcement.
3. Unless required to do so by applicable laws of India and in the absence of any agreement of the parties to the contrary, a party shall not in any manner produce as evidence in any judicial, arbitral or similar proceedings:
1. any documents, statements or communications which are submitted by another party or by the Mediator in or for the Proceedings, unless they can be obtained independently by the party seeking to produce them in the judicial, arbitral or similar proceedings;
2. any views expressed or suggestions made by any party within the Proceedings with regard to the dispute or the possible settlement of the dispute;
3. any admissions made by another party within the Proceedings;
4. any views or proposals put forward by the Mediator within the proceedings; or
5. the fact that any party indicated within the Proceedings that it was ready to accept a proposal for a settlement.
4. Any notes taken by a person concerning the meetings of the parties with the mediator shall be destroyed on the termination of the mediation.
5. No audio-visual recording of the mediation will be made of the proceedings, irrespective of whether the mediation was made through the online platform or otherwise.
6. Mediations are private. Only the Mediator, the parties and/or their representatives, advisers or Counsel and staff of the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre as required will be permitted to be present during the mediation.
7. Nothing that transpires during the course of the mediation is intended to or shall in any way affect the rights or prejudice the position of the parties to the dispute in any subsequent arbitration, adjudication or litigation.
8. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre or the mediator will not be compelled to divulge such records or to testify or give evidence in regard to the mediation in any adversary proceeding or judicial forum.
9. In a case of disputes filed before the Court, Commissions or any other Forums, the Settlement Agreement duly signed by the Parties may be submitted.
10. The files added/attached by any party or mediator shall be viewable by all on the online platform and can be downloaded.
RULES RELATED TO MEDIATOR
Rule 15: QUALIFICATIONS FOR EMPANELMENT OF MEDIATORS
1. The Centre shall appoint mediators through an empanelment process, wherein experts and trained mediators, who are willing to be empanelled with the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall apply to the Centre through an empanelment form provided on the website of the Legal Referee.
2. Mediators must be competent and knowledgeable in the process of mediation. Relevant factors include proper training and continuous updating of their education and practice in mediation skills, having regard to any relevant standards or accreditation schemes.
3. Mediators with special qualification or expertise in the area of Consumer Laws, land law, intellectual property laws or other specialized in India or with a proven record of handling those disputes shall be given preference while nominating mediators for the panel.
4. The applications received by the Centre towards empanelment shall be scrutinized by Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre.
5. Mediators empanelled with the Centre are expected to periodically engage in various forms of continued education to refine and improve their mediation knowledge and skills.
6. Mere receipt of an application for empanelment does not give a right to get empanelled. The Centre after considering the application shall have the discretion of appointment of mediators on the panel.
Rule 16: APPOINTMENT OF MEDIATOR
1. In the online mediation process, once the parties agree to enter the Mediation Phase, a mediator is appointed to the case in question by the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre and the Parties are automatically notified via e-mail.
2. No person shall act as a mediator in any dispute in which that person has any financial or personal interest in the result of the mediation except by consent of the parties. Before accepting an appointment, the proposed mediator shall disclose to the parties and to the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre, any circumstances likely to create a presumption of bias. Upon receipt of the information, the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall immediately communicate the information to the parties for their comments. If any party takes objection to the proposed mediator within 7 days, such mediator shall not be appointed. A replacement mediator will be appointed in the same manner as the mediator, who is replaced.
3. Upon appointment of the mediator, the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall promptly notify the parties of the name of the mediator and in relation to the mediator.
4. The mediator, by accepting the appointment, confirms that the mediator shall devote the time necessary to conduct the mediation proceedings diligently, expeditiously and in accordance with the time limits as prescribed in the Rules.
Rule 17: ASSIGNMENT OF CASES TO MEDIATOR
1. The parties are not allowed to choose the mediator of their own.
2. The Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre as mentioned in the provisions above shall appoint the mediator looking into the nature of the case and the type of dispute.
3. Only one mediator shall be appointed for a case involving online mediation. In case of physical mediation, the parties may request for more than one mediator subject to approval from the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre.
Rule 18: REMOVAL OF MEDIATOR FROM LEGAL REFEREE ONLINE MEDIATION CENTRE’S EMPANELMENT
1. A mediator shall be removed or his name may be deleted from the Centre’s list of empanelled mediators on one or more of the following circumstances:
1. he resigns or withdraws in writing, his name from the panel;
2. he is declared insolvent by any court or is declared to be of unsound mind;
3. violates Rules and Code of Conduct of the Centre in conducting the mediation proceedings;
2. Upon receipt of any such information, the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre, shall conduct such inquiry as it deems fit, and if the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre is satisfied that it is not possible or desirable to continue the name of that person in the panel, the mediator’s name shall be removed or deleted from the list of Empanelled Mediators.
Rule 19: FEES
1. Fees shall be as per the Fee Schedule provided by the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre. The Centre may amend the Fee Schedule from time to time.
2. The Registration fees shall not be refunded at any cost.
3. The fees shall be paid upon acceptance of the complaint.
Rule 20: EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY
Except in case fraud, dishonesty, violation of the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre’s Code of Conduct or its terms or any other deliberate wrongdoing, the mediator and the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre shall not be liable to any party for any act or omission in connection with any mediation conducted under these Rules.
Rule 21: AMENDMENTS
These rules may be amended or modified by the Legal Referee Online Mediation Centre at any time without notice. Parties are required to check the website from time to time.