Pre-Arbitration Hearings

When To Request A Hearing

If there is a dispute concerning the materials to be considered in a credit arbitration, then any participating writer or the Guild can request a Pre-Arbitration Hearing. For example, if there is a dispute concerning the proper chronological sequence of the written work, this question may be raised at a Pre-Arbitration Hearing. Other issues decided at Pre-Arbitration Hearings include disputes as to the authenticity, authorship, completeness or identification of materials.

The Process

A Special Committee consisting of three members of the Guild conducts the Pre-Arbitration Hearing. These panelists also serve as members of the TV or Screen Credits Committee and have vast experience as arbiters. Generally, the writer requesting the hearing meets with the Special Committee first to explain the nature of the dispute and presents information or documents relevant to the issues raised. Other participating writers are then given the opportunity to meet individually with the Special Committee and respond to the information presented and give any additional input. Generally, the tenor of these hearings is informal. Although some writers choose to bring a representative, such as an attorney or agent, to these hearings, it is not considered necessary or required. The entire credit determination procedure should be viewed as a writer-to-writer process.

Decision of the Special Committee

After the Special Committee has received all available information relevant to the dispute, it considers each issue carefully and makes a decision. Generally, this happens immediately after the hearing unless there is other relevant information that is not available at that time. Each participant is informed of the Special Committee’s decision by phone, which is followed by a letter confirming the decision and summarizing the reasoning of the Special Committee. The Arbitration Committee must follow the decision of the Special Committee. For example, if the Special Committee sequences scripts in a given order, the arbiters must use this order of writing in weighing each writer’s contribution. Writers may not make reference to anything contrary to the Special Committee’s decision in their statements to the Arbitration Committee. If a writer disagrees with the decision of the Special Committee, this writer may raise it as an issue on appeal to be reviewed by a Policy Review Board panel after the arbitration decision is known. A writer may disagree with a pre-arbitration ruling on one or more pieces of material, but nonetheless end up with the credit sought. The disagreement then becomes moot, and an appeal usually would not be requested.