The first thing required is the submission of a complaint to the NGFA Secretary. The rules require that the complaint “state specifically the nature of the dispute; including the defendant’s name and address, applicable contract numbers, date of incident giving rise to the dispute, and the amount of damages claimed.” The complaint for is designed to satisfy these requirements in a simple yet sufficient manner, but use of the form is not required.
Membership: NGFA Arbitration is compulsory for claims between NGFA Active members involving the NGFA Trade rules or the warehousing, processing, manufacturing, merchandising, financing, transportation or distribution of grain, feed, or feed ingredients. In all cases, at least one party must be a member of the NGFA. Even if a company's contracts reference NGFA Arbitration of Trade Rules, without membership, they do not have access to arbitration (unless the other party is a member). The member-party must also have been a member at the time the arbitration complaint is filed, and at the time the underlying dispute arises. Companies must have their own independent NGFA membership unless they are 100% owned by a single NGFA member.
Consent: NGFA Arbitration is available in all disputes between members and non-members based on consent by both parties. If the contract in dispute provides for NGFA Arbitration, the parties are deemed to have consented to it. NGFA recommends specific contract clauses. Arbitration may be available in cases involving other contract terms, but default judgment may not be an option when questions of consent by the non-member exist.
- 12 months after a claim arises or the expiration date for performance of the contract(s), whichever occurs last
- 30 days of issuance of a court order
Each party must pay an arbitration service fee of 1.5% of the amount of the plaintiff's claims. The minimum arbitration service fee is $750. The maximum arbitration service fee is $20,000.
Each party pays the same fee, and the fee is the same for all cases.
Oral hearings are available in every case and either party may request one.
Important note: the introduction of new documents or written evidence at an oral hearing in not permitted.
Deadline to request an oral hearing:
- Non-appeal case: the final deadline of the defendant's surrebuttal
- Appeal Case: the final deadline of the appellee's brief
How to request an oral hearing:
- A party must make a timely request
- The party requesting an oral hearing must advance $12,500 to cover the additional expenses of the arbitrators and NGFA including, but not limited to, the stenographic record of the case and hotel and travel expenses for the arbitrators, NGFA staff and NGFA's legal counsel. The requesting party must submit payment no later than 10 days after notification from the NGFA Secretary. Failure to advance expenses may be grounds for denying a request for an oral hearing.
Note: After the committee determines and fixes the actual amount of additional expense incurred, the party or parties shall be refunded or billed by the NGFA Secretary for the difference between the amount advanced and actual costs.
Location of an oral hearing:
The chair of the arbitration committee will determine a time and place for the hearing, and the NGFA Secretary shall notify the parties of the date and place selected.
The location selected is typically in a major city with a highly accessible and convenient airport. The arbitrators will likely be traveling from different locations throughout North America and the parties should be prepared to travel by air to participate in the hearing.
How to file an appeal:
Within 15 days from receipt of the original decision, the party or parties to the appeal need to complete the following:
- Provide a notice of appeal to NGFA
- Pay NGFA a non-refundable appeal fee. This fee is only paid by the appellant and is exactly double the original arbitration fee paid in the case
- Payment of the original award. This can be done by certified, cashier's check or wire transfer to NGFA (NGFA will put this money into an interest-bearing account until the resolution of the case).
Chronological order of an appeal case:
- NGFA will forward a copy of the appellant's statement of reasons to the appellee. The appellee will have 20 days from the date of receipt to file an answer
- When NGFA receives the appellee's response, NGFA will assemble a record of the case and will submit to the parties.
- Within 10 days of receipt of the record of the case, the appellant will file a brief of its case with the NGFA Secretary, each argument keyed to facts contained in the record of the case.
- Within 7 days of receipt of the appellant's brief from the NGFA Secretary, the appellee will file its brief. Upon receipt of the appellee's brief, the NGFA Secretary will send a copy to the appellant.
- Parties will have 5 days for either party to challenge the arbitrators after they are appointed to the case by the NGFA Secretary.
- 10 copies of each argument must be submitted to NGFA.
- A party (or parties) cannot appeal the decision of an Arbitration Appeals Committee.