California Dispute Settlement Program FAQ


What is the role of CDSP?

CDSP is a neutral administrator of the dispute resolution process. The function of CDSP is to provide a conduit between the Arbitrator and the parties for the transmitting of information, evidence, requests, and decisions. CDSP keeps the process moving forward under its Rules. CDSP is not the decision maker and cannot second guess an independent Arbitrator that has heard the proofs and evidence presented by the parties, has deliberated, and has made a decision.


What is the role of the Arbitrator?

The Arbitrator is an independent, third party neutral, who has been trained as an Arbitrator and has sufficient subject matter knowledge to make a fair, impartial and reasonable decision.


What if I have questions about the arbitration process, Rules, or what to do next?

You may always call a CDSP Case Administrator to help guide you. You should note that once an Arbitrator has been appointed, it is the Arbitrator that determines issues regarding the process.  Your CDSP Case Administrator can help guide you, but ultimately the Arbitrator will make the decision.


What do I need to do to prepare for the arbitration hearing?
  • Read and understand the arbitration rules, your state lemon law, the Federal Act known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and the Uniform Commercial Code--Sales, all of which the arbitrator may take into consideration to decide your case.
  • Read the contents of the "Lemon-aid for Consumers" brochure printed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and sent to you by CDSP in your initial packet of materials.
  • Read the related documents pertaining to your vehicle (e.g. warranty, Owner's Manual and Owner's Warranty Rights booklets, if available). 
  • Make an outline of your case so you are prepared to present your position. 
  • Be prepared to prove your case with documents and/or testimony. 
  • You are required to provide copies of your supporting documentation to all parties. Please submit all documents to CDSP prior to the hearing for us to make the copies and to disburse to the other parties and the Arbitrator.  If you bring copies of documents to the hearing, you must bring enough copies for all parties. 


What should I do at the hearing?
  • Arrive on time.
  • Provide any evidence that supports your claim. 
  • Where appropriate, show the Arbitrator the conditions related to your claim through a test drive or observation of your vehicle.  If a test drive is taken, you will be expected to show valid proof of insurance, and a valid driver's license.
  • Be prepared to defend any Affirmative Defenses that may be presented by the Manufacturer, such as a failure to maintain the vehicle, modification, after-market parts, an abuse of the vehicle, etc.
  • Before the hearing is closed, be sure you have provided the Arbitrator, and the other parties, all of your evidence. No further evidence can be presented after the hearing unless the Arbitrator holds the hearing open for the receipt of further evidence. 


What if I need an adjournment?

If you believe you need an adjournment, you should make the request, in writing, through CDSP  for the Arbitrator's review and decision. CDSP will send a copy of the request for adjournment to the other party for comment and then the Arbitrator will review the request, and any comments from the other party, and make a decision. If the Arbitrator believes there is "good cause," the Arbitrator can approve the request for adjournment and will reschedule the hearing. If the request is denied by the Arbitrator, the hearing will be held as originally scheduled.

Why haven't I received the Arbitrator's decision even though the time period in the Rules has passed?

Once the Arbitrator renders, signs, and dates the decision, it is sent to CDSP to be processed and sent to all parties. This can add a few days from the date the decision is rendered by the Arbitrator to when the parties actually receive the decision. As always feel free to contact the CDSP Case Administrator assigned to your case with any questions.


Can CDSP change the Arbitrator's decision?

NO. The Arbitrator alone is the decision maker.


What if I disagree with the Arbitrator's Award?

The awards tendered by the Arbitrators under the CDSP program, which complies with the Federal Regulations promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission under the Magnuson-Moss Consumer Warranty Act (generally the Automobile Warranty Programs), are not binding on the consumer and the consumer is free to accept or reject the Award. In this program, you will receive a letter from CDSP requesting whether you accept or reject the decision. You may reject an Award with which you do not agree, and may pursue other legal remedies, including the use of Small Claims Court.


What is a "Request for Modification and/or Clarification" under the Rules?

If there is an apparent mistake in a name or description in an Award, it can be corrected through the use of a "Request for Modification and/or Clarification" without taking the matter to Court. The Arbitrator can modify a decision if the Arbitrator finds he/she did not have the authority to make a particular decision. The Arbitrator cannot redetermine the merits of the case to simply change the decision at the request of any party.