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DIVISION VIII, TITLE 50, SUBTITLE II.CHAPTER 5
§ 50-501 Definitions
For the purposes of this chapter, the term:
(1) "Board" means the Board of Consumer Claims Arbitration
for the District of Columbia established by § 50-503.
(2) "Consumer" means the purchaser, other than for purposes
of resale, of a motor vehicle; any person to whom the motor
vehicle is leased or otherwise transferred during the duration
of a warranty applicable to the motor vehicle; and any other
person entitled to enforce the obligations of the warranty.
For the purposes of § 50-503, the term "consumer" means any
natural person who does or would purchase, lease, or receive
consumer goods or services. The term "consumer" includes any
natural person who purchases insurance coverage in the District
(3) "Council" means the Council of the District of Columbia.
(4) "Court" means the Superior Court of the District of
(5) "District" means the District of Columbia.
(6) "Known" means, for the purposes of § 50-505, that a
dealer or the dealer's agent or employee has obtained facts
or information about the condition of a motor vehicle which
would lead a reasonable person in similar circumstances to
believe that the motor vehicle contained 1 or more material
mechanical defects. The term "known" encompasses knowledge
obtained through an inspection, from a previous owner, from
the salesperson at an auction, or through other means.
(7) "Material mechanical defect" means any defect, failure,
or malfunction of the mechanical system of a motor vehicle,
including, but not limited to, the engine, transmission and
drive shaft, differential, cooling system, electrical system,
fuel system, or accessories, which significantly impairs the
operation, safety, performance, or value of the motor vehicle.
(8) "Mayor" means the Mayor of the District of Columbia.
(9) "Motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle which is manufactured
for sale, offered for sale, sold, or registered in the District
and which is designed for the primary purpose of transporting
a driver and 1 or more passengers on streets, roads, or highways.
The term "motor vehicle" shall not include buses sold for
public transportation, motorcycles, motor homes, or motorized
(10) "New motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle which is
in the period of the first 18,000(eighteen thousand) miles
of operation or the first 2(two) years after the date of delivery
to the original purchaser, whichever is earlier.
(11) "Safety-related defect" means an impairment which reduces
the operator's ability to control the motor vehicle in normal
operation or which creates a risk of fire, explosion, or other
(12) "Significantly impair" means to render the motor vehicle
unreliable or unsafe for normal operation or to reduce its
resale value below the average resale value for comparable
(13) "Used motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle which is
offered for sale in the District and which is not within the
period of the first 18,000(eighteen thousand) miles of operation
or the first 2(two) years after the date of delivery to the
original purchaser, whichever is earlier; but it does not
mean a motor vehicle sold only for scrap or parts.
(14) "Warranty" means the written or implied warranty of
the manufacturer of a motor vehicle.
§ 50-502 Consumer's remedy for defective vehicles
(a) If a new motor vehicle does not conform to all warranties
during the first 18,000 (eighteen thousand) miles of operation
or during the period of 2(two) years following the date of delivery
of the motor vehicle to the original purchaser, whichever is
the earlier date, the consumer shall during that period report
the nonconformity, defect, or condition to the manufacturer,
its agent, or its authorized dealer. If the notification is
received by the manufacturer's agent or authorized dealer, the
agent or dealer shall within 7(seven) days forward written notice
thereof to the manufacturer by certified mail, return receipt
requested. The manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer
shall correct the nonconformity, defect, or condition at no
charge to the consumer, notwithstanding the fact that the repairs
may be made after the expiration of the first 18,000(eighteen
thousand)- mile period of operation or the 2-year period.
(b) If, after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer,
its agent, or authorized dealer is unable to repair or correct
any nonconformity, defect, or condition which results in significant
impairment of the motor vehicle, the manufacturer, at the option
of the consumer, shall replace the motor vehicle with a comparable
motor vehicle, or accept return of the motor vehicle from the
consumer and refund to the consumer the full purchase price,
including all sales tax, license fees, registration fees, and
any similar governmental charges. In calculating a refund, the
manufacturer may deduct from the consumer's full purchase price
a reasonable allowance not to exceed 10 cents per mile for the
consumer's use of the motor vehicle in excess of the first 12,000(twelve
thousand) miles of operation, and a reasonable allowance for
any damage not attributable to normal wear or to the nonconformity,
defect, or condition which significantly impaired the motor
vehicle. Refunds shall be made to the consumer, and the lienholder,
if any, as their interests may appear on the records of ownership
kept by the Department of Public Works.
(c) Each of the following circumstances shall be an affirmative
defense to any claim under this section:
(1) The nonconformity, defect, or condition does not significantly
impair the vehicle.
(2) The nonconformity, defect, or condition is the result
of abuse, neglect,or unauthorized modifications or alterations
of the motor vehicle.
(d) It shall be presumed that a reasonable number of attempts
have been made to conform a motor vehicle to the warranties,
(1) The same nonconformity, defect, or condition, if it
is not safety- related, has been subject to repair 4(four)
or more times by the manufacturer, its agent, or authorized
dealer after notification by the consumer within the first
18,000 miles of operation or during the period of 2(two) years
following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle
to a consumer, whichever is the earlier date, but the nonconformity,
defect, or condition continues to exist;
(2) The same nonconformity, defect, or condition, if it
is safety-related, has been subject to repair 1 or more times
by the manufacturer, its agents, or authorized dealers after
notification by the consumer within the first 18,000(eighteen
thousand) miles of operation or during the period of 2(two)
years following the date of original delivery of the motor
vehicle to a consumer, whichever is the earlier date, but
the nonconformity, defect, or condition continues to exist;
(3) The motor vehicle is out of service by reason of repair
of any nonconformities, defects, or conditions which significantly
impair the vehicle, on a cumulative total of 30 days or more
during either period, whichever is the earlier date.
(e) The 30-day out-of-service period shall be extended by
any time during which repair services are not available to the
consumer because of a war, invasion, strike, fire, flood, or
other natural disaster.
(f) The consumer, in order to seek the refund or replacement
provided by this section, shall first submit a claim to the
Board of Consumer Claims Arbitration established pursuant to
§ 50-503. If the Board rejects the case for arbitration, or
if the claim is arbitrated and the consumer rejects the arbitration
decision, the consumer may then bring an action in court to
seek the remedies provided by this section.
(1) If a motor vehicle is returned to a manufacturer, its
agent, or authorized dealer pursuant to this section, the
manufacturer, its agent, or authorized dealer shall notify
the Department of Public Works that the motor vehicle was
(2) The Department of Public Works shall note the fact that
the motor vehicle was returned pursuant to this chapter on
any certificate of title issued for the motor vehicle.
(3) A motor vehicle dealer shall state the fact that the
motor vehicle was returned pursuant to this chapter in any
sales contract for the motor vehicle prior to the signing
of the contract by a prospective purchaser.
§ 50-503 Arbitration
(a) There is established in the Department of Consumer and
Regulatory Affairs a Board of Consumer Claims Arbitration for
the District of Columbia. The Board shall consist of 7 members
who shall be appointed by the Mayor.
(b) The members shall be at least 18 years of age and residents
of the District.
(c) Two members shall be attorneys admitted to the practice
of law in the District, 1 of whom shall be designated by the
Mayor as chairperson of the Board. Two members shall have training
and experience in arbitration and mediation. One member shall
be the Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory
Affairs or his or her designee. One member shall have experience
or training in representing the interests of consumers. One
member shall have experience or training in the manufacture
or wholesale or retail sales of consumer goods.
(d) The Mayor shall appoint the initial Board members within
60 days of March 14, 1985. Of the members first appointed, the
chairperson and 1 other member shall be appointed for terms
of 3 years; 2 members shall be appointed for terms of 2 years;
1 member shall be appointed for a term of 2 years; and 1 member
shall be appointed for a term of 1 year. Subsequent appointments
shall be for terms of 3 years. This subsection shall not apply
to the representative of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory
(e) Members of the Board shall be compensated pursuant to
(f) The Mayor shall issue, and may amend from time to time,
rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this section
and may establish reasonable fees for the filing of complaints.
(g) The Board, in accordance with the rules and regulations
issued pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, shall provide
arbitration for claims filed by consumers against manufacturers,
their agents, or dealers pursuant to §§ 50-502 and 50-505; for
claims voluntarily filed by consumers against the provider of
any consumer goods or services, who agrees to arbitration, pursuant
to rules and regulations issued by the Mayor; and for claims
filed pursuant to § 31- 2405 by parties agreeing to arbitration
pursuant to rules and regulations issued by the Mayor.
(h) Consumers may submit claims to the Board by completing
forms which shall be approved by the Mayor.
(i) Upon receipt of a written claim filed by a consumer, the
Board shall within 5 business days determine whether the claim
qualifies for arbitration pursuant to this chapter and notify
the opposing party.
(j) The Board shall develop and maintain a roster of persons
who are residents of the District, at least 18 years of age,
and experienced in arbitration techniques who may be employed
to serve as arbitrators for specific cases.
(k) The Board shall assign cases for arbitration according
to the following provisions:
(1) A case may be assigned to a single arbitrator if the
Board first informs all parties to the case of the identity
and background of the arbitrator and obtains their consent.
When a case is assigned to a single arbitrator, the arbitrator
must be an attorney-member of the Board or another attorney
admitted to the practice of law in the District and chosen
from the roster of arbitrators maintained by the Board.
(2) All cases not assigned to single arbitrators shall be
assigned to a panel of 3 arbitrators, 1 of whom must be a
member of the Board and 1 of whom must be an attorney admitted
to the practice of law in the District. Participation on the
panel by an attorney-member of the Board shall satisfy both
requirements. The Board shall inform all parties to the case
of the identity and background of the arbitrators tentatively
selected for the panel and shall obtain the consent of both
parties to the choice of arbitrators. The decision of the
panel shall be by majority vote.
(l) The Board is authorized to reject for arbitration consumer
claims which are determined by a majority of the Board to be
frivolous, fraudulent, or beyond the legal authority of the
(m) The Board shall promptly assign all cases accepted for
arbitration to an arbitrator or arbitrators who shall appoint
a time and place for a hearing and notify the parties personally
or by registered mail not less than 5 days prior to the hearing.
Hearings shall be public and shall be recorded electronically.
(n) At all arbitration hearings, the parties are entitled
to present oral and written testimony, to present witnesses
and evidence relevant to the controversy, to cross-examine witnesses,
and to be represented by counsel.
(o) The Board may issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses
and for the production of books, records, documents, and other
evidence. The Board or arbitrators designated by the Board shall
have the power to administer oaths and affirmations and take
(p) Upon application by any party to an arbitration proceeding,
or upon its own motion, an arbitrator or arbitration panel may
retain independent technical experts as needed to determine
the facts in the case. The arbitrator or arbitration panel may
assign the costs of the technical experts to 1 or both parties
to the case.
(1) The arbitrator or arbitration panel shall determine
whether the defendant is liable to the claimant and, if so,
shall award the claimant relief.
(2) The arbitrator or arbitration panel may award the claimant
the relief provided by this chapter, any relief available
under any other law, and reasonable attorneys' fees. The defendant
may be assessed the costs of arbitration as part of any award
rendered by the arbitrator or arbitration panel.
(3) Decisions of an arbitrator or arbitration panel shall
be in writing and shall be entered by and in the name of the
(4) Decisions shall be entered no later than 60 days from
the date the Board accepts a case for arbitration.
(5) The decision shall state the relief granted, if any,
and shall specify a time limit for compliance.
(6) The board shall promptly provide a copy of the decision
to each party.
(r) The Board or any party to a case may petition the court
to issue an order compelling compliance with a decision by the
(1) Any party to a case may, within 20(twenty) days after
receipt of the Board's decision, petition the court to vacate
the decision and grant a trial de novo.
(2) Upon receipt of a petition, the court shall first determine
the validity of the arbitration proceeding and shall vacate
an arbitration award upon a finding that:
(A) The award was procured by corruption, fraud, or other
misconduct in violation of law;
(B) The arbitrator or arbitration panel exceeded its powers;
(C) The arbitrator or arbitration panel failed to conform
to the rules and regulations issued pursuant to this chapter,
and the failure to conform prejudiced the rights of a party
to the complaint; or
(D) The award is based on a numerical error or other error
of fact which the Board has failed to correct.
(3) If the court determines the arbitration process was
valid but grants the petition for a trial de novo on other
grounds, the decision of the Board shall be admissible as
evidence and shall be presumed correct.
§ 50-504 Disclosure of rights
(a) The manufacturer, its agent, or authorized dealer shall
provide written notification to the prospective consumer of
any motor vehicle to be sold or registered in the District of
the rights provided to the consumer by this chapter.
(b) The Mayor shall issue rules and regulations prescribing
the form and content of the notification required by this section.
(c) Any agreement entered into by a consumer for the purchase
of a motor vehicle which waives, limits, or disclaims the rights
set forth in this chapter shall be void. These rights shall
inure to a subsequent transferee of the motor vehicle.
§ 50-505 Disclosure of damages or defects in used motor vehicles;
(a) No motor vehicle dealer may offer for sale any used motor
vehicle without first providing:
(1) Written notice to the prospective consumer of any material
mechanical defect in the motor vehicle and any damage sustained
by the motor vehicle due to fire, water, collision, or other
causes for which the cost of repairs exceeded $1,000, when
the defect or damage was known to the dealer; and
(2) Written notice to the prospective consumer whether the
dealer has conducted any inspection of the motor vehicle to
determine known defects or damage.
(b) A motor vehicle dealer who fails to provide the notices
required by this section or who provides false or misleading
notices shall, upon conviction, be subject to the following
(1) A fine of not less than $300 or more than $1,000 for
a first offense; and
(2) A fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $5,000,
or suspension or revocation of the license issued pursuant
to § 300 of the Vehicles and Traffic Regulations (18 DCMR
300.1 et seq.), or both, for a second or subsequent offense.
(c) The purchaser of a used motor vehicle shall have a right
of action against a used motor vehicle dealer for damages or
injuries sustained as a result of the dealer's failure to comply
with the requirements of this section. The purchaser, in order
to seek the remedies provided by this section, shall first submit
a claim to the Board. If the Board rejects the case for arbitration,
or if the claim is arbitrated and the purchaser rejects the
arbitration decision, the purchaser may then bring an action
in court to seek the remedies provided by this section.
(d) Violations of this section shall be prosecuted in the
name of the District of Columbia by the Corporation Counsel
of the District of Columbia.
(e) Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed as alternative
sanctions for any infraction of the provisions of this chapter,
or the rules or regulations issued under the authority of this
chapter, pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2. Adjudication of
any infraction shall be pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2.
§ 50-506 Listing of odometer readings
The Department of Public Works shall list the odometer readings
at the time of registration or transfer of registration on the
title of all motor vehicles registered in the District.
§ 50-507 Other rights or remedies; limitations on actions
(a) Nothing in this chapter shall in any way limit the rights
or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under
any other law.
(b) Any action brought pursuant to this chapter shall be commenced
within 4 years of the date of original delivery of the motor
vehicle to the consumer.
§ 50-508 Rules and regulations
The Mayor shall issue, and may amend from time to time, rules
and regulations to implement the provisions of this chapter.
§ 50-509 Provision for alternative arbitration system
If the arbitration system established pursuant to § 50-503
cannot consistently handle complaints during the 60-day period
as required by § 50-503(q)(4), and if the administration of
the arbitration system results in expenditures beyond the sums
budgeted annually for the program, the Mayor may certify an
alternative arbitration system that complies with this chapter
and rules issued to implement this chapter.
§ 50-510 Suspension of enforcement
Notwithstanding any other provision of District law, enforcement
of this chapter by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory
Affairs is suspended until October 1, 2000.
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