|| Teus Hagen
| POLICY m20070919.3
$Date: 2008-01-18 22:56:31 $
|| Dispute Resolution Policy
This is the Dispute Resolution Policy for CAcert.
Disputes arising out of
operations by CAcert and interactions between
users may be addressed through this policy.
This document also presents the rules for
resolution of disputes.
0.1 Nature of Disputes
Requests for non-routine support actions.
CAcert support team has no authority to
act outside the normal support facilities made
available to Users;
Classical disputes where a User or another
assert claims and demand remedies;
Requests by external organisations, including
legal processes from foreign courts;
Events initiated for training purposes.
1.1 Filing Party
Anyone may file a dispute.
In filing, they become Claimants.
1.2 Channel for Filing
Disputes are filed by being sent to the normal
support channel of CAcert,
and a fee may be payable.
Such fees as are imposed on filing will be specified
on the dispute resolution page of the website.
1.3 Case Manager
The Case Manager (CM) takes control of the filing.
CM makes an initial determination as
to whether this filing is a dispute
for resolution, or it is a request
for routine support.
CM logs the case and establishes such
documentation and communications support as is customary.
If any party acts immediately on the filing
(such as an urgent security action),
the CM names these parties to the case.
CM selects the Arbitrator.
The personnel within the CAcert support team
are Case Managers, by default, or as directed
by the Dispute Resolution Officer.
The filing must specify:
The filing party(s), being the Claimant(s).
The party(s) to whom the complaint is addressed to,
being the Respondent(s).
This will be CAcert in the
case of requests for support actions.
It may be a User (possibly unidentified) in the
case where one User has given rise to a complaint against another.
For example, a trademark has been infringed,
privacy has been breached,
or a user has defrauded using a certificate.
The action(s) requested by the filing party
(technically, called the relief).
For example, to delete an account,
to revoke a certificate, or to stop a
If the filing is inadequate for lack of information
or for format, the Case Manager
may refile with the additional information,
attaching the original messages.
1.5 The Arbitrator
The Case Manager selects the Arbitrator according
to the mechanism managed by the Dispute Resolution Officer
and approved from time to time.
This mechanism is to maintain a list of Arbitrators available for
Each selected Arbitrator has the right to decline the dispute,
and should decline a dispute with which there exists a conflict
The reason for declining should be stated.
If no Arbitrator accepts the dispute, the case is
closed with status "declined."
Arbitrators are experienced Assurers of CAcert.
They should be independent and impartial, including
of CAcert itself where it becomes a party.
2. The Arbitration
The Board of CAcert and the Users vest in Arbitrators
full authority to hear disputes and deliver rulings
which are binding on CAcert and the Users.
The Arbitrator conducts some preliminaries:
The Arbitrator reviews the available documentation
and affirms the rules of dispute resolution.
Jurisdiction is established, see below.
The Arbitrator affirms the governing law (NSW, Australia).
The Arbitrator may select local law and local
procedures where Claimants and all Respondents
agree, are under such jurisdiction, and it is deemed
However, this is strictly limited to those parties,
and especially, CAcert and other parties
remains under the governing law.
The Arbitrator reviews the Respondents and Claimants
with a view to dismissal or joining of additional parties.
E.g., support personel may be joined if emergency action was
Any parties that are not Users and are not bound
by the CPS are given the opportunity to enter into
CAcert and be bound by the CPS and these rules of arbitration.
If these Non-Related Persons (NRPs) remain outside,
their rights and remedies under CAcert's policies
and forum are strictly limited to that specified in the
Non-Related Persons -- Disclaimer and Licence.
NRPs may proceed with Arbitration subject to preliminary orders
of the Arbitrator.
Participating Users may not resign until the completion of the case.
The Arbitrator confirms that all parties accept
the forum of dispute resolution.
This is especially important where a User might be
in a country with no Arbitration Act in law, or
where there is reason to believe that a party might
go to an external court.
The Arbitrator confirms that parties are representing
themselves. Parties are entitled to be legally
represented, but are not encouraged to do so,
bearing in mind the volunteer nature of the
organisation and the size of the dispute.
If they do so they must declare such, including any
The Arbitrator may appoint experienced Assurers
to assist and represent parties, especially for NRPs.
The Case Manager must not to provide such assistance.
The Arbitrator is bound to maintain the balance
of legal fairness.
The Arbitrator may make any preliminary orders,
including protection orders and orders referring
to emergency actions already taken.
The Arbitrator may request any written pleadings,
counterclaim, and/or statements of defence.
Jurisidiction - the right or power to hear and rule on
disputes - is initially established by clauses in the
User agreements for all CAcert Users.
The agreement must establish:
That all Parties agree to binding Arbitration
in CAcert's forum of dispute resolution;
for all disputes relating to activities within
CAcert, issued certificates, roles and actions, etc;
as defined by these rules, including the selection
of a single Arbitrator;
under the Law of NSW, Australia; and
the Parties keep email accounts in good working order.
An external court may have ("assert") jurisdiction to decide on
issues such as trademark, privacy, contract and fraud,
and may do so with legal remedies.
These are areas where jurisdiction may need
to be considered carefully:
Where NRPs, being not members of CAcert and not
bound by agreement, are parties to the dispute.
E.g., intellectual property disputes may involve
NRPs and their trademarks;
criminal actions or actions likely to result in criminal
Contracts between Users that were formed without
a clause to seek arbitration in the forum;
Areas where laws fall outside the Arbitration Act,
such as privacy;
Legal process (subpoenas, etc) delivered by
an external court of "competent jurisdiction."
The Arbitrator must consider jurisdiction and rule on a
case by case basis whether jurisdiction is asserted,
either wholly or partially, or declines to hear the case.
In the event of asserting
jurisdiction, and a NRP later decides to pursue rights in
another forum, the Arbitrator should seek the agreement
of the NRP to file the ruling as part of the new case.
2.4 Basis in Law
Each country generally has an Arbitration Act
that elevates Arbitration as a strong dispute
The Act generally defers to Arbitration
if the parties have so agreed.
That is, as Users of CAcert, you agree to resolve
all disputes before CAcert's forum.
This is sometimes called private law
or alternative dispute resolution.
As a matter of public policy, courts will generally
refer any case back to Arbitration.
Users should understand that they will have
strictly limited rights to ask the courts to
seek to have a case heard or to override a Ruling.
2.5 External Courts
When an external court claims and asserts its jurisdiction,
and issues a court order, subpoena or other service to CAcert,
the CM files the order as a dispute, with the external court
The CM and other support staff are granted no authority to
act on the basis of any court order, and ordinarily
must await the order of the Arbitrator
(which might simply be a repeat of the external court order).
The Arbitrator establishes the bona fides of the
court, and rules.
The Arbitrator may rule to reject the order,
for jurisdiction or other reasons.
By way of example, if all Parties are registered Users,
then jurisdiction more normally falls within the forum.
If the Arbitrator rules to reject,
he should do so only after consulting with CAcert counsel.
The Arbitrator's jurisidiction is ordinarily that of
dealing with the order, and
not that which the external court has claimed to.
The Arbitrator follows the procedure:
Establish the facts.
The Arbitrator collects the evidence from the parties.
The Arbitrator may order CAcert or Users under
jurisdiction to provide support or information.
The Arbitrator may use email, phone or face-to-face
meetings as proceedings.
Apply the Rules of Dispute Resolution,
the policies of CAcert and the governing law.
The Arbitrator may request that the parties
submit their views.
The Arbitrator also works to the mission of CAcert,
the benefit of all Users, and the community as a whole.
The Arbitrator may any assistance.
Makes a considered Ruling.
3. The Ruling
3.1 The Contents
The Arbitrator records:
The Identification of the Parties,
The logic of the rules and law,
The directions and actions to be taken by each party
The date and place that the ruling is rendered.
Once the Ruling is delivered, the case is closed.
The Case Manager is responsible for recording the
Ruling, publishing it, and advising users.
Proceedings are ordinarily private.
The Ruling is ordinarily published,
The Ruling is written in English.
Only under exceptional circumstances can the
Arbitrator declare the Ruling private under seal.
Such a declaration must be reviewed in its entirety
by the Board,
and the Board must confirm or deny that declaration.
If it confirms, the existance of any Rulings under seal
must be published to the Users in a timely manner
3.3 Binding and Final
The Ruling is binding and final on CAcert and all Users.
Ordinarily, all Users agree to be bound by this dispute
resolution policy. Users must declare in the Preliminaries
any default in agreement or binding.
If a person who is not a User is a party to the dispute,
then the Ruling is not binding and final on that person,
but the Ruling must be presented in filing any dispute
in another forum such as the person's local courts.
3.4 Re-opening the Case or Appeal
In the case of clear injustices, egregious behaviour or
unconscionable Rulings, parties may seek to re-open the
case by filing a dispute. The new Arbitrator
reviews the new dispute,
re-examines and reviews the entire case, then rules on
whether the case may be re-opened or not.
If the new Arbitrator rules the case be re-opened,
then it is referred to the Board of CAcert Inc.
The Board hears the case and delivers a final
and binding Ruling.
All liability of the Arbitrator for any act in
connection with deciding a dispute is excluded
by all parties, provided such act does not constitute
an intentional breach of duty.
All liability of the Arbitrators, CAcert, its officers and its
employees (including Case Manager)
for any other act or omission in connection with
arbitration proceedings is excluded, provided such acts do not
constitute an intentional or grossly negligent breach of duty.
The above provisions may only be overridden by
appeal process (by means of a new dispute causing
referral to the Board).
The Arbitrator generally instructs using internal remedies,
that is ones that are within the general domain of CAcert,
but there are some external remedies at his disposal.
He may rule and instruct any of the parties on these issues.
"community service" typically including
or others as decided.
attend and assure people at trade shows / open source gatherings,
serve in role - support, dispute arbitration
Fined by loss of assurance points, which may result
in losing Assurer or Assured status.
Retraining in role.
Revoking of any certificates.
Monetary fine up to the liability cap established for
each party as described in the Registered User Agreement.
Exclusion from community.
Reporting to applicable authorities.
Changes to policies and procedures.
The Arbitrator is not limited within the general domain
of CAcert, and may instruct novel remedies as seen fit.
Novel remedies outside the domain may be routinely
confirmed by the Board by way of appeals process,
in order to establish precedent.
4.1 The Advantages of this Forum
The advantage of this process for Users is:
CAcert and Users operate across many jurisdictions.
Arbitration allows us to select a single set of
rules across all jurisdictions.
Arbitration allows CAcert to appropriately separate
out the routine support actions from difficult dispute
actions. Support personnel have no authority to
act, the appropriately selected Arbitrator has all
authority to act.
Good governance is thus maintained.
This forum allows CAcert Users to look after themselves
in a community, without exposing each other to potentially
disastrous results in strange courts from foreign lands.
By volunteering to resolve things "in-house" the costs
Even simple support issues such as password changing
can be improved by treating as a dispute. A clear
chain of request, analysis, ruling and action can be established.
CAcert Assurers can develop the understanding and the rules
for sorting out own problems far better than courts or
other external agencies.
4.2 The Disadvantages of this Forum
Some disadvantages exist.
Users may have their rights trampled over.
In such a case, the community should strive to
re-open the case and refer it to the board.
Users may feel overwhelmed by the formality
of the process.
It is kept formal so as to establish good and proper
authority to act; otherwise, support and other
people in power may act without thought and with
A country may not have an Arbitration Act.
In that case, the parties should enter into
spirit of the forum.
If they choose to break that spirit,
they should also depart the community.
4.3 Process and Flow
To the extent reasonable, the Arbitrator conducts
the arbitration as with any legal proceedings.
This means that the process and style should follow
However, the Arbitrator is unlikely to be trained in
law. Hence, common sense must be applied, and the
Arbitrator has wide latitude to rule on any particular
motion, pleading, submission. The Arbitrator's ruling
is final within the arbitration.
Note also that many elements of legal proceedings are
deliberately left out of the rules.