Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–4430. Regulation of arbitration organizations.

(a) Any arbitration organization that administers or otherwise is involved in 50 or more consumer arbitrations a year shall collect, publish at least quarterly, and make available to the public in a computer-searchable database that permits searching with multiple search terms in the same search, and is accessible at the Internet website of the arbitration organization, if any, and on paper, upon request, all of the following information regarding each consumer arbitration it has administered or otherwise been involved in within the preceding 5 years:

(1) The name of any corporation or other business entity that is party to the arbitration.

(2) The type of dispute involved, including goods, banking, insurance, health care, debt collection, employment, and, if it involves employment, the amount of the employee’s annual wage divided into the following ranges:

(A) Less than $100,000;

(B) From $100,000 to $250,000, inclusive; and

(C) More than $250,000;

(3) Whether the consumer was the prevailing party;

(4) The number of occasions, if any, a business entity that is a party to an arbitration has previously been a party in an arbitration or mediation administered by the arbitration organization;

(5) Whether the consumer party was represented by an attorney and, if so, the identifying information for that attorney, including the attorney’s name, the name of the attorney’s firm, and the city in which the attorney’s office is located;

(6) The date the arbitration organization received the demand for arbitration, the date the arbitrator was appointed, and the date of disposition by the arbitrator or arbitration organization;

(7) The type of disposition of the dispute, if known, including withdrawal, abandonment, settlement, award after hearing, award without hearing, default, or dismissal without hearing;

(8) The amount of the claim, the amount of the award, and any other relief granted, if any; and

(9) The name of the arbitrator, the arbitrator’s fee for the case, and the percentage of the arbitrator’s fee allocated to each party.

(b) If the information required by subsection (a) of this section is provided by the arbitration organization in a computer-searchable format at the company’s Internet website and may be downloaded without any fee, the company may charge the actual cost of copying to any person who requests the information on paper. If the required information is not accessible by the Internet, the company shall provide that information without charge to any person who requests the information on paper.

(c) No arbitration organization shall have any liability for collecting, publishing, or distributing the information in accordance with this section.

(d)(1) All fees and costs charged to or assessed in the District of Columbia upon a consumer by an arbitration organization in a consumer arbitration shall be waived for any person having a gross monthly income that is less than 300% of the federal poverty guidelines issued annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

(2) Any consumer requesting a waiver of fees or costs may establish eligibility by making a declaration under oath on a form provided by the arbitration organization indicating the consumer’s monthly income and the number of persons living in the household. No arbitration organization may require a consumer to provide any further statement or evidence of indigence. The form, and the information contained therein, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed to any adverse party or any nonparty to the arbitration.

(3) An arbitration organization shall not keep confidential the number of waiver requests received or granted, or the total amount of fees waived.

(e) Nothing in the section shall affect the ability of an arbitration organization to shift fees that would otherwise be charged or assessed upon a consumer party to another party.

(f) Before requesting or obtaining any fee, an arbitration organization shall provide written notice of the right to obtain a waiver of fees in a manner calculated to bring the matter to the attention of a reasonable consumer, including, but not limited to, prominently placing a notice in its first written communication to a consumer and in any invoice, bill, submission form, fee schedule, rules, or code of procedure.

(g) No neutral arbitrator or arbitration organization shall administer a consumer arbitration under any agreement or rule requiring that a consumer who is a party to the arbitration pay the fees and costs incurred by any opposing party if the consumer does not prevail in the arbitration, including, but not limited to, the fees and costs of the arbitrator, provider organization, attorney, or witnesses.

(h) No arbitration organization may administer a consumer arbitration to be conducted in the District of Columbia, or provide any other services related to such a consumer arbitration, if:

(1) The arbitration organization has, or within the preceding year has had, a financial interest in any party or attorney for a party; or

(2) Any party or attorney for a party has, or within the preceding year has had, any type of financial interest in the arbitration organization.

(i) Where this section is violated, any affected person or entity, including the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, can request a court to enjoin the arbitration organization from violating the section and order such restitution as appropriate. The arbitration organization shall be liable for that person or entity’s reasonable attorney fees and costs where that person or entity prevails or where, after the action is commenced, the arbitration organization voluntarily complies with the section.