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. It is less formal, less expensive and more expedient than litigating the dispute in court. The Independent Film & Television Alliance (“IFTA”) administers the IFTA Arbitration service.
What is the Independent Film & Television Alliance’s role in the arbitration process?
IFTA Arbitration is a division of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (“IFTA” or “Alliance”). IFTA’s role is to ensure that the administrative functions of IFTA Arbitration are carried out effectively and fairly and in accordance with the IFTA Rules for International Arbitration (“IFTA Rules”). Neither the Alliance nor the IFTA Board of Directors is involved in any way in the parties’ individual contract disputes or the cases brought before the Tribunal for resolution. Board Members (in their capacity as an IFTA Director) are prohibited from involvement in the day-to-day operations of IFTA Arbitration and, to further ensure that IFTA Arbitration remains a neutral forum, the Board has established an international Arbitration Advisory Committee (“AAC”) comprised of buyer representatives, seller representatives and arbitrators, whose mandate is to recruit skilled arbitrators for the IFTA Panel of Arbitrators (“Panel”) and to evaluate and recommend neutral arbitration policies and procedures, including revisions to the IFTA Rules. The Board retains authority to approve any amendments to the IFTA Rules or procedures.
Who is the Arbitral Agent?
The Arbitral Agent is a 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 cannot make any substantive decisions, but is empowered to make certain procedural decisions pursuant to the IFTA Rules and to do any acts required for the efficient administration of the arbitration procedures. For more information, please contact Richonda Starkey, Arbitral Agent, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Independent Film & Television Alliance, 10850 Wilshire Blvd, 9th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90024-4321 USA; Tel: 310-446-1047; Fax: 310-446-1600.
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 (i.e. mediation) with the parties if the parties initiate such discussions. However, if mediation fails and the parties go forward with arbitration, the arbitrator is prohibited from continuing to serve as the arbitrator for that matter. Additionally, IFTA Arbitration offers a pre-arbitration settlement procedure, which is complimentary for Members and offered to non-Members for a nominal fee. The Arbitral Agent will send a letter to the Respondent providing for a ten (10) day settlement period before the arbitration is formally initiated.
Do I have to be an IFTA Member to use IFTA Arbitration?
No, as long as both parties have agreed in writing to resolve their conflict through IFTA Arbitration (or AFMA Arbitration or American Film Marketing Association Arbitration), they may use the service. However, the filing fees are different as between Members and non-Members. Please consult the IFTA Arbitration Fee Schedule (under How to File a Complaint/Fees) for more information.
Must I have an attorney represent me?
No, but it is recommended because the arbitrator will require arguments or 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. The current IFTA Panel is available at our website.
My contract doesn’t have an IFTA Arbitration clause. Can I still use the service?
Yes, if both 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. For a sample agreement to use IFTA Arbitration, please see the Agreement to Use IFTA Arbitration.
I live outside the United States and can’t 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. If no forum or governing law is selected, the arbitration will be held in Los Angeles pursuant to California law. However, it is possible to hold hearings in another country, or by telephone, or to submit written materials instead of holding a hearing. IFTA Arbitration maintains a Panel of more than ninety (90) experienced arbitrators serving in a dozen countries around the globe. 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. The IFTA Rules also provide that the arbitrator may conduct a hearing by filing appropriate documents and/or telephonic examination. Parties may request a telephonic hearing or a hearing based on document submissions, but 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 either party, and to the extent provided by law, the arbitrator may take any interim measures in respect of the subject matter of the dispute. Additionally, the IFTA Rules do 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. Please see the IFTA Rules for more information.
I have been named as a Respondent, a Counter-Respondent or a Cross-Respondent in an arbitration. Can I file a counterclaim or cross-complaint?
Yes. The Respondent may file a statement of defense or a counterclaim or cross-complaint not later than twenty-one (21) days after receipt of a copy of the Notice of Arbitration and the IFTA Rules for International Arbitration from the Arbitral Agent, unless the arbitrator rules otherwise. The response to a counterclaim or cross-complaint shall be submitted to the Arbitral Agent not later than fourteen (14) days after receipt of a copy of the counterclaim or cross-complaint and the IFTA Rules for International Arbitration from the Arbitral Agent, unless the arbitrator rules otherwise. 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 set forth in the IFTA Arbitration Fee Schedule.
What happens after the arbitrator issues an award?
The arbitrator shall transmit the award to the Arbitral Agent. The Arbitral Agent will send the award to the parties via certified or courier mail. Either 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 and makes the request within thirty (30) days after receipt of the award. Either 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 Booklet which contains basic information on confirming and enforcing arbitration awards in a number of countries.
How can I be added to the Panel of IFTA Arbitrators?
Arbitrators are admitted to the Panel based on expertise, location of legal practice, and a current need to add more arbitrators to the Panel. Candidates are requested to submit a letter of recommendation from an arbitrator who currently serves on the Panel and from a party actively involved in the international independent motion picture business, as well as a brief resume that demonstrates the following qualifications:
- 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.
- 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.
Potential arbitrators may be asked to disclose activities that may constitute an ongoing or recurring conflict of interest. Additions to the IFTA Panel are reviewed annually at the IFTA Arbitration Advisory Committee meeting.
Does IFTA Arbitration have the authority to prevent a party from attending the American Film Market?
No. The American Film Market is operated under its own Rules and Guidelines. However, the AFM’s Rules and Guidelines provide that a party that fails to satisfy a confirmed IFTA Arbitration award may be barred for up to two (2) markets upon the request of the Prevailing Party. In addition, an arbitrator may ask that a party be barred from the American Film Market if that party fails to pay the arbitrator’s fees. These provisions are intended to support the integrity of the AFM and are not remedies made available by IFTA Arbitration. Please consult the Arbitration section of the AFM Guidelines (found on the American Film Market section of our website, www.americanfilmmarket.com) for further information.
Who are the current members of the IFTA Arbitration Advisory Committee?
Fiorenza Cella, Free Dolphin Entertainment, France
Ludolph Wentholt, E1 Entertainment Benelux, The Netherlands
Mimi Steinbauer, Hyde Park International, United States
Kimberly Ferguson, Independent, United States
Scott Jones, Artist View Entertainment, United States
Dixon Dern, United States
Leon Morgan, Davenport Lyons, United Kingdom
Louise Nemschoff, United States