Highlights of the Draft Consumer Protection (Mediation) Regulations, 2019

December 3, 2019
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By Rupin Chopra and Priyanka Batra
The Department of Consumer Affairs aims to introduce Mediation as an alternate dispute resolution mechanism for settlement of consumer matters in the form of the Consumer Protection (Mediation) Regulations, 2019 (hereinafter referred to as “Proposed Regulations”) to which views/ comments/ suggestions have been invited from public. Some of the features of the Proposed Regulations are listed as under:

  1. Procedure for empanelment of mediators:
  • The National Commission, State Commissions and Districts Commission shall invite applications from persons interested in getting empanelled as mediators who possess the requisite qualifications.
  • The Commissions, as the case may be, shall prepare a panel of experts willing and eligible to be appointed as mediators in the respective commissions.
  • These panel would be placed on the websites of the National Commission, State Commissions, Ministry of Consumer Affairs and on State Government website.
  1. Initiation of mediation proceedings-

-As specified in the rules, mediation proceedings can be initiated in the following ways:

  • Where it appears to the Commission that there exist elements of a settlement.
  • Either of the parties wish to settle the matter.

-Manner in which the request is to made:

– A written request to the District Commission or the State Commission or the National Commission is required to be made. The request shall contain:

  1. a) a brief explanation of the nature of the dispute; the estimated value of any disputed amounts and any relief or outcome sought by the requesting party;
  2. b) the names, addresses (including e-mail addresses), and contact numbers (including telephone and facsimile) of all parties to the dispute and any legal or other representatives involved, so far as known to the requesting party; and
  3. c) the proposal for the appointment of a mediator, which may include suggested qualifications, such as language, skills or mediation experience on the subject-matter.

-The party or parties filing the request shall simultaneously send a copy of the request to all other parties, unless the request has been filed jointly by all parties.

-The request of the party or parties shall be accompanied with a fee of five hundred rupees.

  1. Appointment of Mediator-
  • Parties to a dispute shall mutually decide the sole mediator for mediating between them;
  • Where parties are unable to agree on a sole mediator, the concerned commission as the case may be, shall nominate/appoint the mediator, as it deems fit.
  1. Procedure of mediation-
  1. The parties shall agree on the procedure to be followed by the mediator in the conduct of the mediation proceedings.
  2. Where the parties do not agree on any particular procedure to be followed by the mediator, the mediator shall follow the procedure hereinafter mentioned, namely:
  • he shall fix, in consultation with the parties, a time schedule, the dates and the time of each mediation session, where all parties have to be present;
  • he shall hold the mediation at the Mediation Cell attached to the National Commission, the State Commission or the District Commission, as the case may be;
  • he may conduct joint or separate meetings with the parties;
  • each party shall, within ten days before a session, provide to the mediator a brief memorandum setting forth the issues, which according to it, need to be resolved, and its position in respect to those issues and all information reasonably required for the mediator to understand the issues; such memoranda shall also be mutually exchanged between the parties.

However, in suitable/appropriate cases, the period of ten days may be curtailed at the discretion of the mediator;

  • each party shall furnish to the mediator such other Information as may be required by him in connection with the issues to be resolved.
  1. All Offer of settlement by parties: Any party to the dispute may, ‘without prejudice’, offer a settlement to the other party at any stage of the proceedings, with notice to the mediator.
  1. Role of mediator: The mediator shall attempt to facilitate voluntary resolution of the dispute(s) by the parties, and communicate the view of each party to the other, assist them in identifying issues, reducing misunderstandings, clarifying priorities, exploring areas of compromise and generating options in an attempt to solve the dispute(s), emphasizing that it is the responsibility of the parties to take decision which affect them; and he shall not impose any terms of settlement on the parties.
  1. Time limit for completion of mediation – 30 days
  1. PrivacyThe mediation sessions or meetings shall be conducted in privacy where the persons as mentioned in Rule 16 shall be entitled to represent parties.
  1. Settlement Agreement –
  1. a) Where an agreement is reached between the parties in regard to all the issues in the suit or proceeding or some of the issues, the same shall be reduced to writing and signed by the parties or their authorized representative.
  2. b) The agreement of the parties so signed shall be submitted to the mediator who shall, with a covering letter signed by him, forward the same to the Commission in which the complaint or proceeding is pending.
  3. c) Where no agreement is arrived at between the parties, before the time limit stated in Regulation 21 or where, the mediator is of the view that no settlement is possible, he shall report the same to the Commission in writing.
  1. Fee of mediator and costs-
  • All expenses towards mediation including the fee of the mediator, costs of administrative assistance, and other ancillary expenses concerned, shall be borne by the respective States/UTs.
  • The mediator fee shall not exceed Rs 2000 per case.
  • Each party shall bear the costs for production of witnesses on his side including experts, or for production of documents.
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