I. What is the purpose of these regulations?
Art. 1. These regulations lay down the provisions with regard to the handling by the arbitrator of complaints – namely complaints at the second level – submitted to him.
By second-level complaints we mean complaints that have previously been handled by Customer Service and/or another service or commission of SABAM.
As far as complaints are concerned where SABAM and/or the law provides for a specific procedure, the role of the arbitrator is limited to monitoring observance of the applicable rules. For example, SABAM's statutes and the Global Agreement lay down specific rules with regard to membership of SABAM, the documentation of works (including the classification of works), the declarations of works used, etc. In the case of disagreement, only the Committee for Daily Operations or the Board of Directors can settle the dispute.
II. Who can submit a complaint to the arbitrator?
Art. 2. The associates of SABAM, copyright holders and the users of the SABAM repertoire who have a legitimate interest can submit a complaint to the arbitrator on individual actions by SABAM regarding the management of rights on which they have not received a clear, relevant or satisfactory reply from Customer Service and/or another service or commission of SABAM.
The complaint from a legal entity must be submitted by a mandated natural person.
III. What conditions does a complaint have to satisfy in order to be handled by the arbitrator?
Art. 3. A complaint is inadmissible if:
1. It has not been previously submitted to and handled by Customer Service and/or another service or commission of SABAM and a period of six months has not expired since the date on which Customer Service finished its intervention.
2. It is clearly unfounded or is submitted in an unreasonable time or when it is completely fictional or purely insulting or defamatory;
3. It is in essence the same as another complaint rejected by the arbitrator and contains no new elements in relation to the rejected complaint;
4. It is the subject of court proceedings or has already been submitted to the monitoring body for associations for the management of authors' rights and related rights;
5. In accordance with the statutes and the Global Agreement, it must be handled by another service or decision-taking organ of SABAM. Depending on the subject and the seriousness of the elements in the complaint, it will be submitted to the Executive Committee and/or the Committee for Daily Operations who will decide on the further steps to be taken.
6. It is submitted unsigned and/or anonymously;
7. It does not comply with the preconditions laid down by these regulations and/or does not contain all the necessary information/documents.
IV. How can a complaint be submitted to the arbitrator?
Art. 4. A complaint can be submitted to the arbitrator in writing by post or electronically and must comply with the preconditions laid down by these regulations.
A written complaint and all exchanges of correspondence thereafter must be duly signed by the plaintiff or his authorised agent.
Verbal or anonymous complaints are not admissible.
V. What elements must a complaint necessarily contain?
Art. 5. Every complaint must state clearly:
1. The identity of the plaintiff with surname and first name (or the name of the legal person or de facto association), his full address (or the address of the registered office of the legal entity or the address of the de facto association), his telephone number of other forms of communication (fax number, e-mail address, etc.).
2. The capacity of the authorised agent and his legitimate interest;
3. A clearly and accurately formulated subject of the complaint;
4. The previous steps that the plaintiff has taken with regard to SABAM in trying to obtain satisfaction (including the reference to the correspondence with the Customer Service);
5. A chronological presentation of the facts;
6. The identity of all persons (natural persons or legal entities) who may be involved in the complaint.
The plaintiff's complaint must be accompanied by a copy of all documents and evidence applicable to the complaint. If the arbitrator discovers that a complaint is not complete, he shall request the plaintiff to provide the missing elements. If the plaintiff does not reply within a reasonable period, the arbitrator shall reject and close the complaint.
VI. What can the plaintiff expect from the handling of his complaint by the arbitrator?
Art. 6. The plaintiff has the right:
1. To be informed of the receipt of his complaint and its admissibility within five working days;
2. To correct and respectful handling of his complaint within the set time;
3. To an objective, neutral and totally independent examination of his complaint;
4. To be informed of how the arbitrator works;
5. That the arbitrator gives reasons for his possible refusal to handle the complaint;
6. To be informed of the progress of his complaint at all stages of the handling;
7. To a clear, relevant answer to his complaint at the latest within one month of its submission. In exceptional and justified cases, the period for the handling of the complaint can be extended by a maximum of one month;
8. To be informed of the decisions by SABAM with respect to possible instructions from the arbitrator and/or of the views of other parties possibly involved;
Art. 7. The arbitrator may hear the plaintiff. If several parties are involved in the dispute, all the parties will be heard by the arbitrator.
In the event of a complaint between two or more parties without SABAM actually being a party to the dispute, the role of the arbitrator shall be limited to accompanying, hearing and advising the parties in order to arrive at an amicable settlement. If no amicable settlement can be reached within a reasonable period, the arbitrator shall terminate his intervention.
SABAM must take an absolutely neutral stance in the event of complaints between several associates.
VII. What obligations are incumbent on the plaintiff?
Art. 9. The plaintiff must:
1. To provide all supplementary information requested by the arbitrator;
2. Be personally present when invited to be heard by the arbitrator and give a complete and honest answer to all questions. If he does not attend the meeting without valid justification, the arbitrator shall reject and close the complaint.
3. Refrain from interventions with SABAM and/or the monitoring body or the courts not agreed upon with the arbitrator, either directly or via mandated person, at the same time as the intervention by the arbitrator and for as long as he is handling the dossier.
In the event of a parallel intervention, the arbitrator shall terminate his intervention.
If the arbitrator discovers that the plaintiff in his capacity as a member of SABAM has unfairly claimed rights or is attempting to do so, the arbitrator shall terminate his intervention and submit the dossier to the Committee for Daily Operations which, in accordance with the statutes and the Global Agreement, can take disciplinary measures in the interests of the associates of SABAM.
The plaintiff shall be informed in advance that his dossier is being submitted to the Committee for Daily Operations.
VIII. What obligations are incumbent on the arbitrator?
Art. 10. The arbitrator must handle the complaints received in accordance with the provisions of these regulations.
Art. 11. The arbitrator must comply with the Code of Ethics. He is expected to act honestly, ethically and responsibly. On no account may he infringe the material and moral interests of SABAM or of the plaintiff.
In the exercise of his function, the arbitrator shall demonstrate impeccable honesty and complete objectiveness.
He shall distance himself from benefits of any kind offered to him by the plaintiff, by third parties or by the associates of SABAM that could influence him in the exercise of his function.
The arbitrator shall not use the information received as a result of his function in any way in circumstances outside the framework of his function.
The arbitrator undertakes to be bound by professional secrecy as provided for in the Copyright Act.
IX. What are the different phases in the handling of a complaint by the arbitrator?
Art. 12. A complaint goes through various phases during its handling by the arbitrator. These shall be systematically indicated by the arbitrator in his correspondence with the plaintiff.
1. Confirmation of receipt: This is the first contact with a dossier; in a first letter the arbitrator indicates to the plaintiff whether or not the complaint is admissible. This shall take place within five working days of submission of the complaint.
2. Handling of the dossier: The phase in which the arbitrator supplements his information by asking the plaintiff and any other third party involved for further details. In view of the neutral position of SABAM, the arbitrator is obliged to contact all the parties involved in the complaint.
Handling of the fundamental aspects of a dossier when the complaint does not involve a question of principle or when it does not have to be submitted to another service of decision-making organ of SABAM and/or to the courts.
3. Inadmissible or unfounded complaint: The arbitrator shall react as quickly as possible to the complaint, but within not more than one month after its submission. The arbitrator shall inform the plaintiff in a letter and giving reasons that on the grounds of these regulations, the complaint is partly or completely unfounded.
4. Replay and/or conciliation proposal: Handling phase of a dossier during which the arbitrator makes a proposal or goes to arbitration.
If several parties are involved, they must each always be heard.
No element of the arbitration shall bind the parties, nor shall it be used for or against them, whether in the case of success or failure of the arbitration.
The arbitrator shall make every effort to find a clear, relevant and satisfactory answer within not more than one month of the submission of the complaint, and shall inform the plaintiff accordingly by means of a letter containing his reasons.
In exceptional and justified cases, the period for the handling of the complaint can be extended by a maximum of one month.
Art. 13. If SABAM decides to initiate legal proceedings to settle the dispute submitted to the arbitrator, the arbitrator shall inform the plaintiff accordingly in advance and terminate his intervention.
X. How does the arbitrator report on his activities?
Art. 14. The arbitrator draws up a monthly and annual report on his activities in which he describes and specifies the submitted, handled and ongoing complaints during the month and year under review. For each complaint he indicates the steps that he has taken, the recommendations that he has made and the risks for SABAM.
On the basis of these activity report, the Executive Committee can take appropriate measures, such as a review of the collection and distribution rights for the royalties.
XI. When do these regulations come into force?
Art. 15. These rules of procedure have been drawn up and approved by the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee oversees that they are correctly applied in practice, evaluates their effectiveness and ensures the necessary amendments and updates.
One copy of these regulations are sent for information to the monitoring body and is published on the SABAM website.