TARIFFS ARBITRATION PANEL
Where there is a dispute between a collecting society and a user over the tariffs payable by the user, such dispute is to be referred to the Commission which may set up a Tariffs Arbitration Panel for the purpose of resolving the dispute. The provision of the Act appears to be a mandatory requirement of submission to arbitration. In that wise, it may be argued that a dispute between users and an approved society cannot proceed directly to the court without first being heard by the Panel. Subject to the right of any of the parties to appeal to the Federal High Court, on points of law, the decision of the Panel would be final and binding on the parties before it.
Subject to payment of prescribed fees, a person may initiate proceedings under these Rules for the settlement of a dispute arising from the Copyright (Collecting Societies) Regulation 2007 by a notice as in Form 1 (Applicant’s Notice) of the First Schedule, together with a statement of the applicant’s case to the Commission. Within 7 days of the receipt of the notice in Form 1, the Director General of the Commission shall cause to be served on the person named as Respondent therein, a notice of the reference of the dispute in Form 2 (Respondent’s notice) together with a copy of the applicant’s statement161. Except where otherwise directed, the respondent shall, within 14 days of the service of the applicant’s notice served on the Director General of the Commission his written answer to the Applicant’s statement and any counterclaim, and the Director-General shall cause a copy of the Respondent’s answer and counterclaim to be served on the applicant.
Upon this, the Director General of the Commission may at any time before the constitution of the Panel decide whether the dispute is such that should be referred to a Panel. If, after considering the reference the Director-General decides to entertain the reference, he shall refer same to a Panel, and if he declines to entertain the reference, he shall direct that no further proceedings shall be taken by any party in connection with the reference.
Subject to the decision to refer a dispute to a panel, the Director General of the Commission shall, within 10 days after the receipt of the last statement or answer from the parties, appoint a Panel in accordance with Regulation 15 of the Copyright (Collecting Societies) Regulations 2007. The Panel shall have the power to regulate its own procedure. Disputes under these Rules may be determined on the basis of documents filed only. However, the Panel may, having regard to the exceptional nature of the case, or at the request of a party, order a hearing. A party may be represented at any hearing by a legal practitioner, or by any other person allowed by the panel to appear on his behalf or may appear in person. The notice of representative shall either be stated in the notice to the Director-General referring a dispute for settlement required to be given in rule 2(1) or an answer thereto, or made in writing and shall not be effective until notice thereof has been served on the Director-General, and a copy of same has been served on every other party and the proof of such service delivered to the Panel.
The panel’s final decision shall be communicated to the Director General of the Commission who thereafter shall inform the parties of the decision. It should be noted that an application for settlement of a dispute shall be subject to the payment to the Commission of an administration fee which shall not be refundable. Where it is not paid within 7 days, the applicant is deemed to have withdrawn his application. The amount covers the Panel’s fees and any properly incurred outgoing of the members of the Panel and such other expenses as are necessary for the conduct of the proceedings, such as the cost of heating facilities.