Arbiter Volunteer Scheme: Supplement A

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IV. Procedural Methods of Mediation and Arbitration (full version)

Extreme caution advised: This section is currently written in Legalese until such time as those points which are ultimately adopted may be revised into a less daunting presentation. Or until said Legalese is declared a foreign language and consequently banned. The wise Researcher might prepare to read this by first reading through the ingredients and directions for use on a box of Vogon laundry detergent. The really prepared Researcher would also have eaten the box, as it would be less dry. Thank you.

Part I. - General Rules

A. Scope of Application

These rules apply to every proceeding conducted by a member of the H2G2 Arbiter Scheme (Arbiter).

B. Terms

1. Party shall refer to the disputants and - in some cases - the Arbiter -- collectively.

2. Arbiter includes a sole Arbiter or all the Arbiters where more than one is appointed.

3. Negotiation is used as a general term for a number of various dispute-resolution procedures - whether utilized singly or in combination - including, but not limited to, Arbitration, Mediation and Inquiry.

4. Punitive Measure means any punitive measure set by the Italics.

5. House Rules means all rules and regulations which have been made accessible to the H2G2 Community on the House Rules Page or other official onsite page designated for such purposes, and excludes those regulations or interpretations of rules not so officially posted.

6. Words used in the singular include the plural and vice versa, as the context may require.

C. Disputes covered by the Arbiter Scheme

An Arbiter is competent to hear and, if necessary, decide disputes arising between:

a) two or more Researchers

b) one or more Researchers and the Italics.

Part II. - Common Rules

A. Request

1. A Request for Arbiter intervention shall be initiated by creating a new forum on the Arbiter Home Page. This post shall contain the nickname and User-ID of the Requester, the recommended Arbiter and shall clearly, though as briefly as practicable, state the substance and relevant parties to the dispute. (A process similar to the submission of an entry to Peer Review.)

2. Such a Request may not be refused unless at least three Arbiters agree that the matter does not warrant investigation and no other Arbiter objects.

B. Invitation

1. Upon acceptance of the Request, the Arbiter shall as soon as possible post a message at the relevant Personal Spaces inviting all involved parties (the Invitation) to begin a discussion in accordance with these Rules.

2. The Invitation shall be accompanied by a copy of or a link to the Request, and shall at the same time be sent to the party submitting the Request.

3. All parties shall reply to the Invitation as soon as possible.

4. Should the invited party refuse the Invitation, the fact that negotiation was sought but refused shall be stated both within the thread in which the original incident occurred and at the Arbiters' Archives Page as a matter of public record.

C. Appointment of Arbiter

1. Where all parties agree on the Arbiter, and the proposed Arbiter agrees to act, the discussion shall proceed in accordance with these Rules.

2. In the event that a requested Arbiter is unacceptable to the Invited party, or a nominated Arbiter refuses the appointment, all parties are to agree on an alternate Arbiter within seven days.

3. The parties may request and agree to the appointment of more than one Arbiter.

4. All participants shall review and accept as binding both these rules and the Arbiters' Code of Conduct before accepting the appointment.

D. Summary

1. The Arbiter may invite each party to make a brief written Summary of their position and the present status of the dispute, together with such additional information and materials as the parties consider necessary for the purpose of mediation and, in particular, to enable the issues in dispute to be identified.

2. The maximum number of characters of the Summary is 5000.

E. Settlement

1. The Arbiter may at any time, with the agreement of all the parties, suggest a possible basis for settlement either to all parties or to any party individually.

2. Any party may propose a basis for settlement at any time.

3. If the parties reach agreement on a settlement of the dispute, they shall draw up and clearly agree to a binding settlement agreement with such assistance of the Arbiter as may be considered appropriate.

F. Binding decision by the Arbiter

1. The parties may ask the Arbiter to decide the dispute. The decision is binding on the parties and must be accompanied by a detailed summary of the process.

2. The right to impose Punitive Measures as may be recommended by the Arbiter shall be retained by the Italics.

G. Termination

The Negotiation shall terminate upon any one of the following:

  • a. declaration by any or all of the parties that the discussion is abandoned;

  • b. agreement to a settlement agreement between the parties;

  • c. the delivering of a binding decision by the Arbiter.

H. Liability

Except in respect of deliberate wrongdoing, the Arbiter shall not be liable to any party for any act or omission in connection with any Negotiation conducted under these Rules.

I. No Foundation of further Negotiation

The parties and, by accepting appointment, the Arbiter agree that any statements or comments made or used by them in the course of the proceeding shall not be relied upon to found a new arbitral proceeding.

J. No posting by non-relevant Researchers

1. Only those Researchers who are formally invited into the procedure by the Arbiter may post on the forum thread wherein the proceedings take place.

2. To enforce this rule, the Arbiter shall have the power to hide or delete any non-germane postings through the use of either the current "Yikes!" button or a similar device to be developed.

Part III. - Special Rules

A. Conflict of Rules

In cases where the Common Rules (Part II) and the Special Rules (Part III) are in conflict, the Special Rules shall prevail.

B. Mediation of disputes between Researchers

1. The role of the Arbiter is to aid the parties in identifying the issues, reducing misunderstandings, clarifying priorities, exploring areas of compromise, and finding points of agreement. An agreement reached by the parties is to be based on the decisions of the parties and not the decisions of the Arbiter. Both parties will agree to be bound by any agreements brokered during mediation.

2. Arbiters will be called upon to mediate between researchers when significant problems arise. They can be called upon in any of the following circumstances:

  • a. A researcher feels attacked in a thread, and calls upon the Arbiters for mediation.

  • b. Two researchers feel they cannot resolve their differences, and both approach the Arbiters for mediation.

  • c. A neutral party discovers a volatile situation getting out of hand, and seeks the attention of the Arbiters. An Arbiter then posts to the thread offering mediation.

  • d. The Italics discover a situation getting out of hand and recommend the parties seek mediation.

3. The Arbiter will begin the proceedings by asking the disputants the following questions:

  • a. Do you wish to pursue mediation?

  • b. Do you wish to conduct this mediation in public, or private?

  • c. What do you hope to accomplish through mediation?

4. Disputes between Researchers are to be settled in a mutually agreed way. No binding decision may be handed down by the Arbiter unless all parties agree to have the dispute shifted to an Arbitration proceeding under the Rules set out under Arbitration of Researcher vs. Researcher disputes below.

5. Disputes regarding the accuracy and aptness of the contents of an entry currently in Peer Review cannot be brought before an Arbiter.

6. Disputes are settled by a sole Arbiter unless all parties agree otherwise.

7. Mediation will be conducted either within the original Request forum, a private email forum established for the purposes of the specific mediation, or in a combination dependent on the wishes of the disputants.

8. The Arbiter shall impartially conduct the proceeding in such manner as s/he thinks fit, within the Code of Conduct, with a view to expeditiously assisting the parties reach a mutually acceptable settlement, taking into account any wishes the parties may express.

9. The parties shall in good faith give their co-operation and assistance to the Arbiter.

10. The Arbiter shall have the option to discourse privately with any of the parties if so requested and deemed necessary as a means of obtaining pertinent, relevant information. Any party may request a private discussion with the Arbiter at any time. The Arbiter shall retain all information disclosed by any party as confidential unless the party making that disclosure specifically agrees that disclosure may be made to the other parties.

11. The mediation process will continue for seven calendar days; the Arbiter may, at hir discretion, extend the mediation process beyond seven days, if s/he feels that an agreement can be reached. At any time during the proceedings, the Arbiter or the disputants can agree that the mediation process is not working, and can escalate it to Arbitration.

C. Arbitration of Researcher vs. Researcher disputes

1. A dispute that fails to reach resolution in Mediation can be escalated to Arbitration. Here, a panel of three Arbiters will preside. The disputants will agree to be bound by the findings of Arbitration. Should there be more than two disputants, the hearing is extended accordingly.

2. The Arbiters shall impartially conduct the proceeding, within the Code of Conduct and taking into account any wishes the parties may express.

3. The parties shall in good faith give their co-operation and assistance to the Arbiters.

4. The role of the Arbiters is to hand down a binding, fair and equitable decision.

5. The decision of the Arbiters may take the form of an apology by one or both disputants; a mutual compromise to respect and avoid each other; or censure (a "stern talking-to") one or both disputants.

6. In extreme cases, Arbiters may contact the Italics and recommend punitive measures, although implementing such recommendation remains at the discretion of the Italics. If the Italics choose to follow the recommendation, such punitive action would not be subject to Official Inquiry (see below). The original Arbiter should be included in the Arbitration panel, although s/he may elect to disqualify hirself due to a lack of impartiality, and the disputants may likewise request a change.

7. Arbitration will be conducted like a debate or formal hearing, in the following manner:

  • a. Disputant A presents the complaint, providing references to all relevant H2G2 conversations, so that everything can be studied in its proper context.

  • b. Disputant B rebuts.

  • c. Disputant B presents their complaint, providing references to all relevant conversations.

  • d. Disputant A rebuts.

  • e. Disputant A summarizes.

  • f. Disputant B summarizes.

  • g. Arbiters address questions, as they desire, to specific disputants, to clarify any possible misconceptions. Disputants answer the questions directed to them, and remain on the subject, without making further accusations.

  • h. Arbiters adjourn. Each writes up hir interpretation of the events and recommendations. The majority Opinion is carried. If there is some internal ambivalence regarding the final decision, they may deliberate amongst themselves until a consensus is reached prior to the posting of the Opinion.

D. Official Inquiry into Researcher vs. Italics disputes

1. This proceeding may be initiated where a single Researcher is subjected to a unilateral punitive measure of the Italics without prior intervention of the Arbiters.

2. The Inquiry must be requested by someone other than the recipient, and must be seconded by another third party. The recipient must agree to the proceeding taking place. The Italics may request an Inquiry at any time, should they desire.

3. An Inquiry will be conducted by a Tribunal made up of as many Arbiters as can be involved, although individuals may disqualify themselves (or be disqualified by the parties) due to conflict of interest or insufficient time to dedicate to the matter. An odd number must be maintained, and a minimum of seven Arbiters must be convened.

4.The Inquiry shall begin as soon as a quorum of Arbiters is assembled, yet a specified 'cooling-off' period may be allowed if requested by either party or considered necessary by a majority of the Tribunal.

5. In a case where the party is suspended or banned and is thus unable to post directly to the procedural forum, the party may chose any Arbiter who shall agree to relay the party's statements to the Tribunal. The party would then e-mail the designated Arbiter who would, in turn, post the unabridged messages in the forum. The House Rule prohibiting the posting of statements by banned researchers shall be rescinded for the term of the Inquiry.

6. Inquiries will not last longer than seven calendar days.

7. Inquiries will be held in a formal manner, similar to Arbitration:

  • a. Italics present the violation, and explain how it violates the H2G2 Terms and Conditions.
  • b. Recipient rebuts.
  • c. Italics rebut.
  • d. Recipient rebuts.
  • e. Italics summarize.
  • f. Recipient summarizes.
  • g. Arbiters adjourn for internal discussion and to write their individual Opinions.

8. Each Opinion shall conclude by clearly stating whether the Arbiter wishes to support or rule against the action of the Italics. Each Opinion is to be drafted within five days and distributed within the Tribunal for perusal and tabulation. Two days later, the final, unabridged Opinions are to be posted on the Arbiters' Archives page and simultaneously e-mailed to the Italics.

9. The majority decision will be established as a matter of public record and implemented as far as possible with all due haste.

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