What is an Arbitration Hearing?
Lemon Law arbitration hearings are much less complicated than court trials or administrative hearings—there are no formal rules of evidence or court procedures and the hearings are designed to be as easy as possible for participants. You will be given the opportunity to explain your claim and present documents, affidavits or witnesses and other evidence to prove your claim. The manufacturer will have an opportunity to present its side of the dispute. The manufacturer and the arbitrator may ask you questions or request more detail. There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions about the manufacturer’s position, affidavits or witnesses and evidence. The final section of the hearing will be about financial issues and a possible replacement vehicle.
The Lemon Law Administration has prepared a video explaining the arbitration process. “The Lemon Law: A Guide to Arbitration” is available for viewing in sections on the Lemon Law web pages. A copy will be sent to you when your Request for Arbitration has been forwarded to the Arbitration Board. You can also contact the Lemon Law Administration for a copy.
Who Will Attend the Hearing?
Hearings usually will be attended by you, a manufacturer’s representative, any witnesses and the arbitrator. Arbitrators are like judges in that they listen to each side and then issue a written decision after the hearing.
In unusual instances, an impartial automotive expert technician will be assigned to assist the arbitrator. The expert’s function is not to provide testimony for either side in the dispute. You must provide technical testimony from qualified independent mechanics or other experts when it is necessary to prove your claim.
What You Must Prove at the Arbitration Hearing
Your claim may be based on one or more defects and cover more than one claim category e.g. a serious safety defect may have been subject to 2 unsuccessful attempts to diagnose or repair and a second serious safety defect occurred within 12 months. Presenting problems in the excluded living space or that clearly do not meet the definitions of a nonconformity or serious safety defect will not help your case, will take up time and may confuse the important issues. An arbitrator will be lenient but will not allow either party to pursue issues that are not relevant to the Lemon Law and the claim.
Plan your presentation to show how your vehicle meets all the requirements and definitions for the type of defect and claim category related to each manufacturer’s warranty. You should include your response to the issues identified in the manufacturer statement. It is likely that you already know the manufacturer’s issues from trying to resolve the situation e.g. money issues; disagreement on the number of repair attempts, etc. If additional points of dispute have been mentioned or discussed in other conversations or correspondence with manufacturer representatives, you should be prepared to address those also.
The critical points to prove to an arbitrator are: