Arbitration FAQ

What is arbitration?
Arbitration is the resolution of a dispute by a neutral third person who hears arguments, reviews evidence, and issues a legally binding decision called an arbitration award. Depending upon the issues to be decided, it is less formal and generally less expensive and more expedient than litigating the dispute in court. The Independent Film & Television Alliance (“IFTA”) administers IFTA Arbitration pursuant to the IFTA Rules.

Who is the Arbitral Agent?
The Arbitral Agent is an IFTA staff member designated by the President of the Alliance to act as the neutral administrator for all arbitration and pre-arbitration matters conducted by IFTA Arbitration. The Arbitral Agent does not have authority to make any substantive decisions, but is empowered to make certain procedural decisions pursuant to the IFTA Rules and to carry out any acts required for the efficient administration of the arbitration procedures.

For more information, contact:
Richonda Starkey, Arbitral Agent
 1-310-446-1047 or rstarkey@ifta-online.org

Do I have to be an IFTA Member to use IFTA Arbitration?
No. As long as all parties have agreed in writing to resolve their dispute through IFTA Arbitration (or AFMA Arbitration or American Film Marketing Association Arbitration), they may use the service.

My contract doesn’t have an IFTA Arbitration clause. Can I still use the service? 
Yes, if all parties submit a written agreement requesting that their dispute be resolved through IFTA Arbitration. If your contract provides for AFMA Arbitration or American Film Marketing Association Arbitration, you may also use the IFTA Arbitration service without any supplemental agreement.  Click here for a sample Agreement to Use IFTA Arbitration.

Must I have an attorney represent me?
No, but attorney representation or consultation is recommended because the arbitrator will require arguments or written briefs of the legal issues citing relevant statutory or case law. The Alliance does not recommend or refer attorneys, but parties may contact attorneys who are on the IFTA Panel of Arbitrators (who are not acting as arbitrators on their cases) for recommendations.  Click here for the current IFTA Panel of Arbitrators

I live outside the United States and cannot attend a hearing in Los Angeles. Can I still participate in the arbitration?
Parties can identify the forum and governing law for the arbitration at the time of signing a contract containing an IFTA Arbitration clause. IFTA Arbitration maintains a Panel of more than 90 arbitrators representing 21 countries around the globe. IFTA may also use neutrals from the World Intellectual Property Organization, if needed. Parties may determine that the arbitration shall take place in a different location by mutual agreement in writing with a copy of that agreement filed with the Arbitral Agent prior to selection of the arbitrator. If no forum or governing law is selected, the arbitration will be held in Los Angeles pursuant to California law. The IFTA Rules provide that, upon the parties’ request, the arbitrator may conduct a hearing by reviewing the parties’ written submissions and/or telephonic or teleconferencing examination. However, such decision is within the sole discretion of the arbitrator.

Do the IFTA Rules for International Arbitration provide for interim relief?
Yes. At the request of a party, the arbitrator may take any interim measures where necessary to safeguard the subject matter of the dispute. Additionally, the IFTA Rules will not preclude any party from applying to a court of appropriate jurisdiction for an interim order for the sole purpose of maintaining the status quo or otherwise preserving the rights of a party. For more information, please see the IFTA Rules

I have been named as a Respondent, a Counter-Respondent, Cross-Respondent or a Cross-Claimant in an arbitration. Can I file a statement of defense, counterclaim or cross-complaint?
Yes. The Respondent may file a statement of defense or a counterclaim or cross-complaint not later than 21 days after receipt of a copy of the Notice of Arbitration and the IFTA Rules from the Arbitral Agent. A Counter-Respondent, Cross-Respondent or Cross-Claimant may file a statement of defense or a counterclaim or cross-complaint not later than 14 days after receipt of the counterclaim or cross-complaint and the IFTA Rules from the Arbitral Agent. A counterclaim or cross-complaint shall set forth the same matters as required for a Notice of Arbitration. The fees for filing a counterclaim or cross-complaint are the same as the fees for filing an arbitration and are set forth in the Fee Schedule.

What happens after the arbitrator issues a Final Award?
Under the IFTA Rules, the arbitrator must transmit the Final Award to the Arbitral Agent. The Arbitral Agent will send the Final Award to the parties via email, to be followed by USPS certified or registered mail (if a party would like to receive the Final Award via courier mail, it must provide its courier account number). Any party has the opportunity to request the arbitrator to correct any computational, clerical or typographical error, provided that party gives notice to the other party or parties and makes the request within the time period provided in the IFTA Rules. Any party may seek confirmation of and/or file or register the arbitrator’s award with any court having jurisdiction to confirm the award. IFTA Arbitration Awards are enforceable in the U.S. and internationally (under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.) Information about the Convention and the countries that have ratified it can be found at www.uncitral.org. The Alliance has also published an Arbitration Award Enforcement Guide that contains basic information on confirming and enforcing arbitration awards in various countries.  Purchase the Arbitration Award Enforcement Guide

Can I receive a copy of an arbitration award for an arbitration to which I was not a party?
No.  Only parties to an arbitration may receive an original award or a copy of an award from the Arbitral Agent.  However, summaries of Final Awards issued from January 1, 2007 onward are posted on the IFTA website.  The summaries are solely intended to provide general information about IFTA Arbitration Awards and are not intended for any other purpose, including but not limited to, precedential value or to serve as legal authority.  IFTA does not provide any other information about specific arbitrations to third parties.  No information is provided with regard to arbitrations that were initiated but did not proceed to a Final Award. 

Does IFTA Arbitration have the authority to prevent a party from attending the American Film Market?
No. The American Film Market® (“AFM®”) is operated under its own Market Rules and Guidelines. However, the AFM’s Market Rules and Guidelines currently provide that a party that fails to satisfy a final confirmed IFTA Arbitration award may be barred for up to two AFMs upon the request of the Prevailing Party. These provisions are intended to support the integrity of the AFM and are not remedies made available by IFTA Arbitration. For further information, please consult the AFM Guidelines, which can be found on the AFM website.

Does IFTA have a mediation program? 
The Alliance does not have a formal mediation program. The IFTA Rules provide that the arbitrator may participate in settlement discussions with the parties if the parties initiate such discussions and request that the arbitrator act as a mediator. However, if mediation fails and the parties go forward with arbitration, the mediator will be prohibited from acting as the arbitrator for that matter. Additionally, IFTA Arbitration offers a complimentary and unique pre-arbitration settlement procedure for IFTA Members (which is available to non-Members for a nominal fee) whereby the Arbitral Agent, upon request, will send a letter to the Respondent providing for a 10-day settlement period before the arbitration is formally initiated. 

How are arbitrators selected for the IFTA Panel?
Arbitrators are admitted to the Panel based on expertise, location of legal practice, and a current need to add more arbitrators to the Panel.  The current qualifications include:
  • Special knowledge and expertise as an attorney in the entertainment field with at least seven (7) years’ experience representing sellers and buyers, particularly in the international licensing of independent films. 
  • Experience in arbitration.
  • Familiarity with litigation and international film licensing agreements.
  • Ability to manage the hearing process, impartially evaluate the evidence, and deal respectfully with the parties.
  • Commitment to serve when selected and conflicts of interest do not exist.
  • Training and/or experience in dispute resolution, especially arbitration.
  • Willingness to complete required training on a continuing basis to enhance arbitration skills.
  • Must be an attorney who is an active member in good standing of a bar association or such other organization that licenses attorneys to practice law in any jurisdiction.
Additions to the IFTA Panel are reviewed annually at the IFTA Arbitration Advisory Committee meeting.

Who are the current members of the IFTA Arbitration Advisory Committee? 
Buyer representatives:
Fiorenza Cella, Free Dolphin Entertainment, France
Ludolph Wentholt, E1 Entertainment Benelux, The Netherlands
 
Seller representatives:
Mimi Steinbauer, Radiant Films, United States
Kimberly Ferguson, Independent, United States
Scott Jones, Artist View Entertainment, United States
 
Arbitrators:
Dixon Dern, United States
Leon Morgan, United Kingdom
Louise Nemschoff, United States