The key to a successful presentation is planning and preparation.
A thorough, organized and focused presentation will help the arbitrator see of the logic of your claim.
Spend time planning how to explain the problem with your vehicle and how to persuade the arbitrator that the problems you are experiencing are the manufacturer’s responsibility. Keep in mind that the arbitrator is not a technical expert and does not know you or your vehicle.
Review the facts of your case. It might be helpful to prepare a list of events in the order that they took place. When did the problem with your vehicle first begin? How was the problem diagnosed and repaired? With what results? What did you do next? When and how did you come to the conclusion that there was a defect in vehicle assembly or materials or that the manufacturer was not administering or implementing its warranty properly?
Think about the best way to demonstrate each important fact or conclusion, such as through a witness, documents, photographs, video tape or expert report.
Read over your claim form. Confirm which CAMVAP remedies you want the arbitrator to order and think about why these are the right ones for the case.
Consider whether you should get a report from an independent diagnostic centre or an expert with relevant qualifications. Make sure the report is clear and to the point. Prepare yourself to show how the expert is qualified to give an opinion about your vehicle and why the opinion should be taken seriously. Think about whether it would also be effective to have the expert attend the hearing in person. You may claim up to $500 for the cost of these diagnostic tests to your vehicle if the results of the test are used as part of your document exchange and hearing information.
Read the manufacturer’s submissions carefully and try to understand the evidence from their perspective so that you can best address each point that may be raised. Also note that the manufacturer may be making claims with respect to negative equity in your vehicle caused by the financing of your previous vehicle or because of other liens registered against the vehicle. This may affect the buyback amount for your vehicle if the negative equity is proven through evidence given at the hearing and accepted by the arbitrator for use in the buyback calculation.
Make yourself a master plan so you know what proof you will bring for each fact or conclusion you want the arbitrator to reach. Ensure that all of your documents are legible, organized and available for the hearing. Talk to the people who will assist you. Let them know when and where to go and what you expect of them.
What happens at the hearing?
Every hearing is different but each CAMVAP hearing typically goes through the following stages:
Stage 1 – Arbitrator Introduction
The arbitrator calls everyone to order and makes introductory remarks. The arbitrator may double check what you and the manufacturer are looking for (buy back versus repairs, for example) and invite you to ask general questions about the process or raise any preliminary issues. If you have questions or concerns about the arbitration process or the arbitrator’s mandate, do not hesitate to raise them.
Stage 2 – Swearing In of Witnesses
The arbitrator asks each witness (including you and the manufacturer’s representative) to promise to tell the truth by way of oath or affirmation (solemn promise).
Stage 3 – Opening Statements (Optional)
The arbitrator invites you to give a big-picture overview of the case. The manufacturer is given the same opportunity. If you choose to make a statement, it should include:
- What order you are looking for;
- The general theory of your case;
- What facts you intend to prove.
Stage 4 – Your Case
The arbitrator asks you (as the claimant) to make your presentation first. Now is the time to prove your claim, including any alleged defects.
- Follow your master plan. Tell and show the arbitrator your case in a clear, logical and convincing way.
- Present your evidence witness by witness;
- Introduce your expert or expert’s report, beginning with the person’s relevant credentials;
- Refer to any documents or physical evidence (such as old parts) that you rely on. Explain what they prove and why they are important.
When the arbitrator says so, the manufacturer may ask you questions (cross-examines you) about the issues to try to clarify or put your case into doubt.
- Answer clearly, concisely and honestly;
- Respond to the actual question, not the one you wish was asked.
The same process happens for each of your witnesses.
Stage 5 – The Manufacturer’s Case
The arbitrator asks the manufacturer (as the respondent) to make its presentation, just as you did. Then you may ask the manufacturer’s representative questions about the issues to try to clarify or put its case into doubt.
- Listen carefully and follow the manufacturer’s presentation;
- Note the questions you want to ask and wait for the arbitrator’s direction that you may ask questions;
- Make sure you ask all the questions that you think are important – this is your only opportunity for this witness;
- Be assertive – but stay courteous.
The same process happens for all of the manufacturer’s witnesses.
Stage 6 – Your Reply (Optional)
The arbitrator asks if you have anything to offer by way of reply. Do not repeat your original presentation. Offer a reply only if the manufacturer’s presentation raised something that you could not anticipate.
Stage 7 – Inspecting the Vehicle and the Test Drive
You must bring the vehicle to the hearing so that you, the arbitrator and the manufacturer’s representative can look at or take it for a test drive. Please make sure it is clean.
- The test drive is an opportunity for everyone to observe the vehicle and its condition but it requires that the vehicle be properly insured for use on the road;
- Both sides must be in the vehicle during the test drive unless this is not feasible because of seating constraints;
- Be prepared to demonstrate or show the problems you have identified;
- Remember, the vehicle must be operated in accordance with normal safe operating procedure during the test drive.
Stage 8 – Summing Up
The arbitrator will give you a chance to summarize the case. Help the arbitrator by showing how everything fits together to support your claim. Use this as the final opportunity to explain why your case is more persuasive than the manufacturer’s.
The arbitrator then gives the manufacturer the same opportunity to summarize its case. After that, the hearing will be over. Additional evidence is only allowed in exceptional circumstances.
Stage 9 (Optional) – Technical Inspection
At or after the hearing, the arbitrator may order a technical inspection of your vehicle.
If you or the manufacturer thinks a technical inspection would help the arbitrator to decide the case, either of you can ask for one at the hearing and the arbitrator will consider the request.
What evidence can I present?
Evidence is something that proves a fact or tends to support a conclusion. It is up to you to decide what evidence to bring to support your case and satisfy the arbitrator that your vehicle has a problem which is a defect in your vehicle’s assembly or materials.
Ways in which you can prove your claim to the arbitrator include the following:
- Oral testimony from witnesses, including your own testimony. The best witnesses are usually those who have personal, first-hand knowledge of the facts.
- The oral testimony or written report of an expert who is qualified to give an opinion about the cause of the problems and how to fix them;
- Documents, such as work orders, towing bills, logs or journals;
- Physical evidence such as the old parts;
- Affidavits (sworn letters or statements) from others – although in-person first-hand testimony is generally more convincing;
- Admissions made to you by the manufacturer or the dealer;
- Conclusions that automatically and logically flow from other facts.
You can (and should) present all relevant evidence pertaining to your claim. It is not the responsibility of the arbitrator or manufacturer to fill in any blanks for you.
Do I have to bring original documents to the hearing?
Although the arbitrator can accept copies of documents, it is a good idea to bring originals to the hearing in case all or part of a copy is not legible.
How do I make sure that the witnesses I need will come to the hearing?
It is your responsibility to make sure that the witnesses you need are present at the hearing. If you are concerned that a witness will not attend voluntarily or bring relevant documents, you may obtain a summons to witness or subpoena to compel their attendance.
Contact the Provincial Administrator for assistance. You must make sure that any summons or subpoena is properly issued and served before the hearing in accordance with the requirements in your province or territory.
Although you must pay the costs associated with obtaining the summons or subpoena, you can get a refund for up to $100 of your total costs to do so if the arbitrator is satisfied that the evidence of the witness(es) was material to your case. Be sure to ask the arbitrator for this refund if it applies.
What if I or one of my witnesses requires an interpreter?
If an interpreter is required, notify the Provincial Administrator in plenty of time before the hearing. CAMVAP hearings are conducted in one of Canada’s official languages, English or French. For all other languages CAMVAP can arrange an interpreter at your expense.
How do I plan for the manufacturer’s case?
The manufacturer is able to respond to your claim and may give evidence that will affect the arbitrator’s view of your entitlement. Be prepared to effectively rebut or challenge what the manufacturer proves or argues.
- Review the manufacturer’s response to your claim and its documentation;
- Identify the outcome the manufacturer wants at the hearing;
- Try to understand the “why” of the manufacturer’s case – does it make sense?
- Look for ways to challenge or rebut the manufacturer’s case, such as through opposing evidence, cross examination or argument.
How do I prepare for cross-examination?
You will have a chance to ask questions of the manufacturer and its witnesses at the hearing. The purpose of your questions is to put the manufacturer’s case into doubt and support your own. Think about what you need to ask and how the answers will help your claim. You may ask:
- Questions for clarification – what did you mean by…?
- Questions to challenge – how could you comment when you weren’t present…?
- Questions to obtain admissions that help you – didn’t you tell me that those repairs wouldn’t work…?
The manufacturer will have the same chance to question you and your witnesses. Review the manufacturer’s case and try to anticipate what those questions might be.
How will I know what the manufacturer plans to present?
Before the hearing, you and the manufacturer must disclose the documents and information you will use to prove your case. Within 10 business days of receiving your claim the manufacturer must file a written response plus the documents it intends to use at the hearing. At least 10 calendar days before the hearing, it must give the Provincial Administrator the name, title and purpose of each intended witnesses plus the name of any person who will assist at the hearing. The Provincial Administrator forwards all of this material to you.
You have exactly the same disclosure duties as the manufacturer and the Provincial Administrator forwards your material to the manufacturer.
If you or the manufacturer do not make the necessary pre-hearing disclosure, the arbitrator may refuse to accept and/or rely on new material at the hearing, unless the other side agrees.
What is a “remedy” and what remedies can I ask for in my presentation?
A remedy is one of the specific things that a CAMVAP arbitrator can order to resolve your claim. You will already have picked the remedies you are looking for when you filled out your claim form.
A CAMVAP arbitrator can order that the manufacturer:
- Repair your vehicle at its expense;
- Buy your vehicle back at a price set by a formula;
- Reimburse you for previous repairs;
- Reimburse you for diagnostic testing of your vehicle done prior to the date of your hearing up to $500;
- Reimburse you for certain out-of-pocket expenses up to $500;
- Reimburse you up to $100 of your total cost to summons witnesses.
The arbitrator can also order that:
- The manufacturer has no liability for your claim; or
- The arbitrator has no jurisdiction (authority) over your claim.
But a CAMVAP arbitrator cannot order:
- Exemplary, punitive or other damages (except as allowed by the plan);
- That the agreement to buy or lease your vehicle be voided or set aside;
- Reimbursement of expenses to buy or lease your vehicle;
- A buy-back if you exceed the buy back eligibility requirements, even if repairs cannot be made;
- Extended service contracts or warranty extensions.
Are there special considerations if I am asking for a buy back?
Yes. There are several special considerations.
If you asked for a buy back on your Claim Form, check to make sure you still qualify for one. You are only eligible if your vehicle travelled less than 60,000 kilometers and was in service for no more than 36 months at the time of the hearing. If your vehicle exceeds these criteria now or at the hearing, the arbitrator cannot order a buy back even if your vehicle cannot be repaired.
Re-calculate the expected buy back amount, using the forms in the application package or the on-line calculator at www.camvap.ca. The arbitrator will establish the final value of the buy back with you and the manufacturer using the odometer reading at the date of the hearing, but your own calculations will give you an approximate amount to expect.
Consider the buy back amount carefully against your personal financial situation at this time and other options such as privately selling the vehicle or trading it in. You are the best person to decide if this is the remedy for you.
You should also read the sections on buy backs in the companion guide called, “Is CAMVAP for Me?” which explain the important differences between buy backs for owned or leased vehicles.
What if my vehicle is damaged or has components missing at the time of the hearing?
In exceptional circumstances where there is physical damage to your vehicle or components missing at the time of the hearing, the arbitrator can order the buy back amount to be reduced by the lowest priced estimate obtained from an authorized dealer for the repair of your vehicle.
If I ask for a buy back at the hearing, can the arbitrator order repairs instead?
The arbitrator can decide to order repairs instead of a buy back if the arbitrator is convinced that repairs are practical and available.
When repairs are ordered, the arbitrator remains responsible for the case for 90 days from the date they are completed. Within that time frame you can ask the arbitrator to reconsider the repair order if the repairs are not effective. After 90 days, however, the arbitration is at an end and the arbitrator lacks authority to do more.
What if I want to change my request from repairs to a buy back at the hearing?
If you ask for repairs on your claim form but later want to ask for a buy back, the arbitrator can allow this change as long as the manufacturer has enough notice and/or opportunity to respond to your changed request.
Can I ask the arbitrator to consider new problems with my vehicle at the hearing?
No. The arbitrator can only consider the problems that you originally identified on your claim form. New problems can only be added if the manufacturer consents.
What if I spent money on diagnostic testing since I filed my Claim Form?
The arbitrator can order that you be reimbursed up to $500 for diagnostic testing incurred prior to the date of the hearing provided the expenses are reasonable and documented. If you spent money on diagnostic testing since you filed your Claim Form, you should advise the Provincial Administrator and provide back up documentation at least 10 calendar days before the hearing. The arbitrator can allow this addition to the remedies you requested as long as the manufacturer has enough notice and/or opportunity to respond to the addition.
What if the manufacturer offers to settle my claim before the hearing?
You and the manufacturer can talk about settling your claim at any time during a CAMVAP arbitration. If such discussions lead to a settlement before the hearing, the arbitration legislation in your province or territory may let you ask the arbitrator to formalize the settlement into a written Consent Award which gives both parties the safeguard of an arbitrator’s decision without the time and effort of a hearing.
If the settlement includes a buy back of your vehicle, you will likely need a Consent Award in order to claim a refund of the prorated provincial sales tax from your provincial or territorial government.
In any event, you should notify the Provincial Administrator as soon as possible if you settle your claim.
What if the manufacturer wants to discuss settlement at the hearing?
It is up to you to decide whether to settle your claim with the manufacturer rather than going to a hearing. If you do discuss settlement at the hearing, the arbitrator can only participate in the discussions (mediate) if the arbitration legislation in your province or territory allows this and if both of you agree to the arbitrator’s assistance. In most cases the arbitrator will leave the room while settlement discussions take place.
If you reach a settlement with the manufacturer at the hearing the arbitrator will formalize the terms of the settlement into a written Consent Award which gives both parties the safeguard of an arbitrator’s decision without the time and effort of a hearing.
What is a technical inspection?
A technical inspection is an examination of your vehicle by a qualified, independent expert who prepares a written report with expert observations and opinions to help the arbitrator understand the technical issues in your claim. The inspection may include disassembly and reassembly of vehicle components as determined by the inspector.
Who pays for the technical inspection?
CAMVAP pays for the technical inspection. There is no cost to you.
Who decides if there will be a technical inspection?
The arbitrator decides whether a technical inspection is appropriate and has the power to order one at any time during the arbitration. If you or the manufacturer requests an inspection, the arbitrator will consider the request. The arbitrator can also independently decide to order a technical inspection.
What is the technical inspector’s mandate?
The inspector’s mandate is to examine the vehicle and answer the arbitrator’s technical questions in a neutral way, using his or her technical expertise.
Before the inspection takes place, the arbitrator makes an order for a technical inspection with input from you and the manufacturer. The order describes the vehicle’s symptoms and asks the inspector to answer specific questions pertaining to your claim.
Can I attend the technical inspection?
Yes. You will be notified of the time and place and must make your vehicle available to the technical inspector who has to complete the inspection within 10 business days of receiving the arbitrator’s order. The manufacturer must get at least 2 business days notice before the inspection takes place and the manufacturer has the right to attend the inspection.
Do I get to see the inspector’s report?
Yes. The Provincial Administrator sends a copy of the inspector’s report to you, the arbitrator and the manufacturer.
Can I comment on the inspector’s report?
Yes. From the time the Provincial Administrator sends the report, you and the manufacturer have 7 calendar days to send written comments about it to the Provincial Administrator. Your comments can include concerns about the content of the inspector’s report, the inspection process or the inspector.
After receiving comments, the arbitrator may decide to hold a teleconference or in-person hearing to hear further from you and the manufacturer or to seek input from the inspector.
How does the arbitrator use the inspector’s report?
The arbitrator uses the inspector’s report as an aid to understand the technical issues in the case. After considering the report and any comments or other input, the arbitrator makes a final decision about your claim.
The arbitrator may, but does not have to, agree with the observations and opinions of the technical inspector because the inspection report is one piece of information to be considered among many and the arbitrator must make a decision based on all of the evidence.