Getting ready for a CAMVAP hearing

CAMVAP is a cross-Canada program that you can use to resolve disputes with a manufacturer about defects in your vehicle’s assembly or materials, or how the manufacturer is applying or administering its new vehicle warranty. Disputes are resolved through binding arbitration.

Binding arbitration means that you and the manufacturer agree to accept the decision of an impartial person called an arbitrator who listens to presentations from each of you at a hearing and makes a decision based on those presentations.

This guide is intended to help you prepare for and take part in a CAMVAP hearing.

What happens at a CAMVAP hearing?

The hearing is an in-person meeting or a conference call where you make your presentation to the arbitrator to explain your case.

Although CAMVAP is less formal than court, the general pattern of a CAMVAP hearing is similar to court. You (the “claimant”) make the first presentation. The manufacturer’s representative (the “respondent”) goes second. Then you may reply to anything new that the respondent brings up.

The arbitrator leads everyone through the process, listens carefully and makes notes of what is said. Later, the arbitrator refers to these notes and decides the case from information you and the manufacturer provided.

Who is the arbitrator?

The Arbitrator for your case will come from a roster maintained by CAMVAP. When your case is set up the Provincial Administrator will select an arbitrator from that roster and send you a copy of the arbitrator’s résumé.

All CAMVAP arbitrators are arms-length service providers who have qualified for the plan’s arbitration roster. Most have other primary businesses like law, engineering or consulting practices. They are not automobile experts but can call upon technical expertise at any time during your case.

May I contact the arbitrator directly?

No. Neither you nor the manufacturer may contact the arbitrator directly. All contact and all exchange of documents or other information must be made through the Provincial Administrator who forwards it to the arbitrator.

Does the arbitrator independently look into my claim?

No. The arbitrator does not do independent research or act as an investigator at any time. The arbitrator is an impartial judge who does not take sides or help either party make its case.

Where will the hearing be held?

The hearing will be held in a hotel meeting room, community centre or similar facility as close to your home as possible.

Who will be at the hearing?

The hearing will be attended by you, the manufacturer’s representative, the arbitrator and any witnesses. If a lawyer or other person will help you present your case, they can also attend along with an interpreter if one is needed. Other than these people, CAMVAP hearings are private and no one else may attend.

Do I have to bring my vehicle to the hearing?

Yes. You must bring the vehicle to the hearing location so that it can be inspected and the odometer reading can be verified. The arbitrator or manufacturer may also want to take the vehicle for a test drive, so it must be insured for use on the road.

If your vehicle is inoperable, notify the Provincial Administrator in plenty of time before the hearing so that the arbitrator can give appropriate directions.

How much notice will I get before the hearing?

The Provincial Administrator will set up your hearing within 50 days of receiving your completed application. You will get at least 14 calendar days notice of an in-person hearing and 3 calendar days notice of a teleconference hearing.

When will my hearing happen by teleconference?

If it is more convenient or economical, you or the manufacturer can request that your claim be heard by teleconference. The arbitrator may grant the request for a teleconference hearing if 3 conditions are met:

  • Both you and the manufacturer agree to a teleconference;
  • The arbitrator considers it appropriate; and
  • The territorial or provincial arbitration legislation permits it.

If your hearing will be by teleconference, the Provincial Administrator will make all the arrangements and give you a toll-free number to call.

The general pattern of a teleconference hearing is the same as a face-to-face hearing except that a vehicle test drive or inspection cannot occur and the odometer reading cannot be verified on that date.

The arbitrator may use a teleconference at other times during the arbitration process such as for eligibility challenges by the manufacturer or other pre-hearing or post-hearing issues.

Do I need a lawyer to make my presentation at the hearing?

You do not need a lawyer but if you feel more comfortable having a lawyer advise you and make your presentation, you may do so at your expense. You also have the option of bringing a friend or family member to help with your presentation.

Manufacturers do not usually bring lawyers to the hearing. Two-thirds of the time the manufacturer’s representative attends alone. One-third of the time, the representative brings a technician, dealer or other witness.

What is the purpose of my hearing presentation?

The purpose of your presentation is to explain your case and convince the arbitrator to rule in your favour. You do this by bringing evidence to prove necessary facts or conclusions and by making logical arguments that help the arbitrator see things your way.

Like you, the manufacturer will be trying to convince the arbitrator to rule in its favour at the hearing, so in order for your case to prevail, your evidence and argument must be more convincing than the manufacturer’s case. Otherwise, your claim may be dismissed for lack of proof.

What should my presentation contain?

Your presentation should cover two basic areas.

It should convince the arbitrator of a manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty obligation or that a current defect in vehicle assembly or materials specific to your vehicle exists. For example, why should the arbitrator conclude that the problem with your vehicle is due to a defect?

Then it should show the arbitrator why you are entitled to the remedy that you want. For example, if you are asking for a buy back, why should the arbitrator give you a buy back instead of repairs? If you are claiming reimbursement of expenses, you have to present documents to prove that the expenses were incurred.

Are there special rules about how to behave at the hearing?

You should behave with respect and common courtesy towards the arbitrator and the other people taking part in the arbitration. You do not have to use special words or legal language.

When making your presentation:

  • Be clear;
  • Avoid being repetitious;
  • Be courteous, even if you disagree with what the other person is saying – the arbitrator must listen to all sides;
  • Stay focussed – your purpose is to make the most convincing presentation.

The manufacturer says that I do not qualify for CAMVAP. What does this mean?

During the arbitration the manufacturer may challenge your eligibility for the program by arguing that your claim does not meet the plan’s basic requirements. This is something that an arbitrator must decide. If the arbitrator rules that the plan’s requirements are not met, your claim cannot be arbitrated through CAMVAP and you will have to resolve your dispute by other means.

How is an eligibility dispute resolved?

If the manufacturer raises an eligibility issue before the hearing, an arbitrator may be appointed to bring you and the manufacturer together (usually by teleconference) to listen to what each of you has to say about that issue. This is called an eligibility hearing or eligibility teleconference.

It is the manufacturer’s job to convince the arbitrator that your claim does not qualify. The manufacturer presents its facts and arguments first and then you get to respond. Your job is to convince the arbitrator that your claim does qualify and show why the manufacturer’s position is not correct. The manufacturer gets to reply to anything new that you raise when you respond.

After listening to both sides (and asking questions, as appropriate) the arbitrator rules whether or not you qualify for CAMVAP. The arbitrator can do this orally right away or prepare a written ruling within 14 calendar days. In either case, the decision will include written reasons and will not decide the merits of your defect or warranty claim.

How should I respond to an eligibility dispute?

Before the eligibility hearing, find out why the manufacturer disputes eligibility and what sections of the Agreement for Arbitration it relies on to back up its position. For example, it might say it already settled your claim (section 4.4.4) or you did not give both the dealer and the manufacturer a reasonable amount of time and opportunity to resolve the problem (section 4.3.7) or that your claim is for a defect in the design of your vehicle or the design of any of the materials used to manufacturer your vehicle (4.4.2). You will have a chance to challenge or rebut the manufacturer’s position before the arbitrator, so be prepared.

What happens next if the arbitrator finds that my claim is eligible?

If an arbitrator finds that your claim is eligible, he or she remains responsible for your case and will be the arbitrator at the hearing which the Provincial Administrator will arrange for a later date.

Can the manufacturer challenge eligibility during the hearing?

Yes. If the manufacturer challenges eligibility during the hearing (as opposed to before the hearing), the same basic process will apply. The arbitrator will listen to both sides and make a ruling on eligibility as part of the hearing process.