Mediation and/or Arbitration Process

Mediation, sometimes called Settlement, is an optional first step in the complaint process. It is a much less formal process than an Arbitration Hearing, and is a very effective means of dispute resolution. The objectives of Mediation are to resolve controversies by promoting friendly, amicable resolutions; enhancing the continued business relationship of the parties into the future. The benefits of Mediation are highlighted on the form called What is A Mediation Conference?.

Participation in Mediation is voluntary on the part of each party. If you are willing to mediate the dispute, indicate your willingness on the Request for Arbitration/Mediation Form (Member or Non-Member) and/or the Mediation Request Form (Arbitration), and submit with your complaint. The Professional Standards Administrator will inquire of the other party to your complaint as to whether they would be willing to participate in Mediation. If all parties agree, the matter will be referred to a Mediation Officer. A mutually convenient time and location for the Mediation will be arranged with the parties.

The Mediation Officer has no authoritative decision-making power. The role of the Mediation Officer is to assist the parties in voluntarily reaching their own mutually acceptable settlement of the issues in dispute.

In the event the parties reach a mutually agreeable resolution, a written agreement shall be prepared by the Mediation Officer and signed by the parties, and the Arbitration request shall be dismissed with the Arbitration filling fees being returned to each party. In the event the Mediation is unsuccessful, the matter will be referred to the Grievance Panel for consideration as to whether the dispute should proceed to an Arbitration Hearing.

Grievance Committee Panel
A Grievance Panel made up of three members of the Association's Professional Standards Committee will review your Arbitration request in case you have not opted for Mediation, or Mediation has been unsuccessful. A preliminary investigation to determine whether the matter is subject to Association Arbitration (whether the dispute is "arbitrable") will be made by the Panel. Arbitration is sometimes mandatory on the part of a REALTOR, and sometimes voluntary. It will be determined by the Grievance Panel which category applies to your situation.

In reviewing your Request for Arbitration, many factors are considered, including:

1. whether you are authorized, under the rules, to invoke Arbitration;
2. whether the party named is a REALTOR principal and member of RANW;
3. whether the controversy described is an arbitrable matter;
4. whether the Arbitration is mandatory or voluntary to the people involved;
5. whether either the amount in dispute is too small or too large, or the matter is too legally complex for the Association to consider; and
6. whether the Request is filed in a timely manner (within 180 days).

The Panel may then, if all factors meet requirements, refer the matter on to an Arbitration Hearing, at which time the other party will be sent your Arbitration Request. Or the Panel may find that the complaint should be dismissed. The Panel's review could also release Association members from their obligation to arbitrate. This would free you to seek other recourse in order to resolve the dispute. You may appeal a dismissal of an Arbitration request to the Board of Directors. The Directors review only the materials submitted to the Grievance Panel and can uphold or overturn the Panel's dismissal.

Arbitration Hearing
If a Grievance Panel refers your Arbitration request to a hearing, you will be notified of the hearing date, time and place. The Association will be in touch with you throughout the process, and will give you instructions about hearing procedures prior to the hearing.

An Arbitration hearing provides an opportunity for the Complainant and the Respondent to explain "his or her side of the story" by presenting testimony, evidence and witnesses, if any. Parties may exercise their right to bring witnesses and/or legal counsel (attorney) to the hearing. Remember the burden of proof in an Arbitration is on the Complainant to offer to the Hearing Panel a "preponderance of the evidence; i.e., that evidence, when taken as a whole, is more convincing than the evidence offered in opposition.

Once all the facts have been presented, an Arbitration Hearing Panel, consisting of members of the Professional Standards Committee, will determine how the dispute should be settled. An Arbitration award may not be more than the amount in dispute. In no circumstances will the Association award legal fees or "punitive" damages.

Arbitration awards are considered final and binding subsequent to the expiration of the procedural review period. There is no "appeal" to an Arbitration award - parties may only request a review of alleged procedural deficiencies, but may not appeal the merits of the award.

If you have questions relating to filing a Mediation or Arbitration request, please call the REALTORS® Association of Northeast Wisconsin at 920.739.9108.