JVC Defines ADR Program
Clearly defined criteria and procedures are key ingredients to a successful
alternative dispute resolution program. The Jewelers Vigilance Committee's
enhanced ADR program does the job
BY WILLIAM H. DONAHUE JR.
The Jewelers Vigilance Committee's alternative dispute resolution program
recently defined in writing what disputes it will mediate, how the process
works and what rights of appeal the parties have.
The Disputes Covered
The service mediates or arbitrates the following disputes within the industry
or with consumers:
- Violating industry codes or ethics and standards.
- Misrepresenting karat and carat.
- Misrepresenting color, clarity, weight or synthetic material.
- Not disclosing as required by the FTC Guides for the Jewelry Industry.
- Other violations of the FTC Guides, including tolerances.
- Deceptive advertising and pricing. The service will not mediate or
arbitrate bill collection, refund/store credit disputes, non-delivery of
goods, or copyright matters. It will not prevent or replace law enforcement
where a pattern of violations occurs and prosecution is the appropriate
course of action.
How the Process Works
Disputes must be submitted in writing and include supporting documentation.
JVC decides within 10 working days whether there are sufficient grounds
to justify the claim. If not, the process ends (the complainant doesn't
give up the right to pursue the claim through other channels if this happens).
If there are sufficient grounds, JVC assigns a case number and notifies
all parties that the complainant wishes to mediate or arbitrate the dispute
through the ADR program rather than through litigation. It also says any
determination is non-binding and gives written procedures to all parties
involved (disputes often involve more than two parties). If the parties
agree to continue, they'll sign an agreement choosing arbitration or mediation
and agreeing any party can withdraw at any time.
The complained-against party or parties can submit documents they feel
are relevant. JVC may ask for additional documents, as may other parties.
The intent is to advance the process quickly and efficiently.
The process continues to a resolution unless JVC determines further efforts
are fruitless or one party withdraws. Settlements are in writing and signed
by the parties. Arbitration determinations include a brief explanation of
the determination. Settlement agreements are confidential, but the parties
may disclose them for the purpose of enforcement.
Rights of Appeal
Arbitration determinations can be appealed to a JVC Appeals Panel, which
will be drawn from the JVC Board of Directors.
Executive Director Cecelia Gardner says JVC plans to offer the service
for free. If either party feels there's a conflict of interest with JVC
and the case is referred to private ADR, the parties are responsible for
the costs. If expert witnesses are needed, the parties involved in the dispute
are responsible for these costs as well.
JVC, New York City, (212) 532-1919.
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.