For the purposes of this chapter, the term:
(1) "Board" means the Board of
Consumer Claims Arbitration for the District of Columbia
established by § 40-1303.
(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 § 40-1303, 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 of Columbia.
(3) "Council" means the Council of
the District of Columbia.
(4) "Court" means the Superior Court
of the District of Columbia.
(5) "District" means the District of
(6) "Known" means, for the purposes
of § 40-1305, 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
(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 miles
of operation or the first 2 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 life-threatening malfunction.
(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 motor vehicles.
(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 miles of
operation or the first 2 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.
Consumer's remedy for defective vehicles
(a) If a new motor vehicle does not conform to all warranties
during the first 18,000 miles of operation or during the period
of 2 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 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 of the first 18,000-mile period of operation or the 2-year
(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 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 lien holder, if any, as their interests
may appear on the records of ownership kept by the Department of
(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
(1) The same nonconformity, defect, or
condition, if it is not safety- related, has been subject to
repair 4 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 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 miles of operation or during the period of 2 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; or
(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
(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 § 40-1303. 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.
(g)(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
(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.
(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 Affairs.
(e) Members of the Board shall be compensated
pursuant to § 1-612.8.
(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
(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 §§ 40-1302
and 40-1305; 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 § 35-2105 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 Board.
(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
(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.
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.
(q)(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
(3) Decisions of an arbitrator or arbitration
panel shall be in writing and shall be entered by and in the
name of the Board.
(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 Board.
(s)(1) Any party to a case may, within 20 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
(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.
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
(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.
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
(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
(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
(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.
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 subchapters I through III of Chapter 27 of
Title 6. Adjudication of any infraction shall be pursuant to
subchapters I through III of Chapter 27 of Title 6.
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.
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.
Rules and regulations
The Mayor shall issue, and may amend from time to time, rules
and regulations to implement the provisions of this chapter.
Provision for alternative arbitration system.
If the arbitration system established pursuant to §
40-1303 cannot consistently handle complaints during the 60-day
period as required by § 40- 1303(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.
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.