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Properly Documenting a Claim

We all wish to avoid confrontations or be able to resolve them amicably without having to submit a Notice of Dispute (NOD) to initiate a formal claim through the DRC’s Dispute Resolution Process. However, things happen and every so often a consultation turns into (becomes an) Informal Mediation. Here are some important tips for those who either submit a NOD or become Respondents to such dispute.

 

Be sure to submit your NOD before the 9-month deadline.

Keep in mind that to present a successful NOD, DRC’s Dispute Resolution rules require members to submit their claim within nine (9) months of when the claim arose or when the claimant ought reasonably to have known of its existence. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to receive calls about claims that are either beyond the nine-month deadline or are quickly approaching it. Having dealt with thousands of calls over the years, we get it. Sometimes things can get away from us, especially if we get busy and most other business is going well.

However, between members, the nine-month limitation of claims must be taken seriously as it prevents you from using any other recourse outside of DRC to resolve your dispute.  DRC Mediation and Arbitration Rules, Article 4, state, “…the Claim is notified to the Corporation by way of a Notice of Dispute within nine (9) months of when the Claim arose or within nine (9) months of when the claimant ought reasonably to have known of its existence.”

 

The wording “ought reasonably to have known” is intended to address indirect situations where notice of a problem was not explicitly communicated by one party to another. An example would be when a cheque is returned for non- sufficient funds.

Keep in mind that according to our rules, “Failure to file the Notice of Dispute with the Corporation (DRC) within this time shall be deemed an abandonment of the Claim and prevent recovery against another member.” In other words, you may have lost an opportunity to potentially recover some funds.

How to explain my case.

A NOD is your opportunity to explain:

  • Who you are,
  • Who you are claiming against,
  • What happened that led to the dispute, and
  • What remedy you are seeking?

 

Clearly describe and outline the events and reasons you think you are entitled to a remedy. The better you explain and detail your claim, the easier it is to address the main issues. Often a good way to organize your presentation is to order the events chronologically, including:

 

  • Term of sales,
  • When and from where product was shipped,
  • When and where product arrived,
  • Pulp temperature(s) at shipping point and/or on arrival (if any),
  • Inspection results (if any), and
  • Any other information that helps clarify the issue(s).

Be sure to submit all relevant documents with your NOD.

How many times have we read the arguments but have not been given the documentary evidence to back it up? Parties need to remember that we can only give our opinion based on the submissions. Informing us that such and such happened is of no value if there is no evidence to back it up, especially if the opposing party denies the action.

 

If you are relying on any document/s, you should attach copies of these documents:

  • Bill of Lading (BOL),
  • Invoice,
  • Purchase Order (PO),
  • Inspection,
  • Account of Sale, and/or
  • Any other document that is related with the matter.

 

Be sure your evidence is correct.

You would be amazed by the number of claims that come with incorrect arithmetic. Be sure to check it twice.

 

Do not send documents for another load or a different day. Even if your opponent does not notice your deception the DRC team most certainly will, and this will be reflected in our comments/observations of the case.

 

Know the DRC rules.

Many cases that come before us are because a party did not follow the rules. This is especially true of inspections. The DRC rules are very clearly laid out in the members handbook, yet cases continue to arrive where these rules were ignored. Often a party will state that they did not ask for an inspection because of the cost or because the shipper did not request one. It is a buyer’s/receiver’s obligation to prove that a load arrived in deteriorated condition. An inspection must be requested in accordance with DRC Good Inspection Guidelines.

 

If you use a broker, be very aware of the rules governing brokers, especially those that limit the broker’s responsibility. “But I phoned the broker” is an all too familiar refrain, but it is not the broker’s responsibility to pass the complaint on to the other party and the clock is ticking and an inspection is due.

 

Do not try to debase your opponent.

Calling your opponent, a “useless so-and so” or even worse, will not help your case. In fact, it may even hurt it if your opponent maintains a dignified attitude. We base our comments on the evidence and the evidence alone. Name-calling will change nothing.

 

These are very important tips that you may want to follow when filing or defending a claim.