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(1) If the consumer elects a documentary arbitration procedure, the department shall gather and disseminate all documentary information and evidence in accordance with the following procedures:

(a) the department shall notify the consumer by certified mail that he or she must submit a sworn or affirmed statement as to the facts of the dispute and any evidence which he or she wishes the panel to consider. The consumer shall forward the documentation to the department within 15 days from the date of his or her receipt of the certified notice;

(b) the department shall notify the manufacturer of the dispute by certified mail. The department shall enclose, with a notice, a copy of the consumer's request for arbitration and a manufacturer's statement form. The manufacturer shall submit a sworn or affirmed statement as to the facts of the dispute, any evidence the manufacturer wishes the panel to consider and a $250 filing fee to the department within 15 days from the date of the manufacturer's receipt of the certified notice; and

(c) upon receipt of both the consumer's and manufacturer's sworn or affirmed statements and documentary evidence, the department shall, by certified mail, forward copies of the consumer's submissions to the manufacturer and forward copies of the manufacturer's submissions to the consumer.

(2) Each party shall have the opportunity to respond to the opposing party's submissions. Each party shall submit a response in writing to the department within 10 days from the date of the responding party's receipt of the opposing party's submissions.

(3) The department shall forward copies of all submitted documents and responses thereto to the arbitrators at least five days prior to the scheduled hearing date.

(4) At the documentary hearing, the arbitration panel shall:

(a) review all documents and statements;

(b) consult with a technical expert, as necessary;

(c) seek further information or documents of either or both parties through the department and request that, upon receipt, the department forward all copies of said information to the opposing party, arbitration panel and technical expert assigned to the case; and

(d) schedule vehicle inspections, if deemed necessary.

(5) All evidence and statements received by the department panel shall be considered part of the record.

History: 61-4-532, MCA; IMP, 61-4-517, MCA; NEW, 1998 MAR p. 746, Eff. 3/27/98; TRANS, from Commerce, 2001 MAR p. 1176; TRANS, from Administration, 2006 MAR p. 322, Eff. 2/10/06.

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