Rules of Procedure
1. Nature of MADRE
- MADRE is an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution entity, set up under the Consumer Affairs Act of Malta and in reference to the MGA Directive 5 of 2018 (Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive).
- The MADRE Board consists of the Executive Officers and Shareholders of MADRE.
- The MADRE Expert Panel consists of legal and technical experts from different fields who are appointed by the Board.
- MADRE offers ADR services only and is not part of the Malta Arbitration Centre. The ADR services are not arbitration covered by the Arbitration Act, Chapter 387 of the Laws of Malta and the decisions are not enforceable as arbitration awards.
2. Scope of Procedure
These rules of procedure apply to any proceedings before MADRE.
- Admissible disputes
These procedures shall apply for the out-of-court resolution of domestic and cross-border disputes concerning contractual obligations resulting from gambling contracts between Operators licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority and Consumers resident in the European Union through the intervention of MADRE which proposes an amicable solution.
Disputes are only admissible if the Operator has permanently submitted to the MADRE procedure or is doing so on an ad hoc basis for a claim filed by a Consumer. Disputes raised by Claimants from outside the EU are admissible only if the Operator consents to submit to the proceedings. This can be done permanently or on a case by case basis. MADRE can decide not to accept specific claims from non-EU jurisdictions. According to Sec. 10 (2) of the MGA ADR Directive, in cases involving a claim up to 5.000 Euro submission to ADR shall be binding to the Operator and conclusions of MADRE shall be binding upon both the Operator and the Consumer. For cases concerning claims above this value, Operators may offer the ADR services of MADRE on a non-binding basis.
- Inadmissible Disputes
Disputes are inadmissible if:
- aa) the dispute does not relate to a gambling transaction or is currently being investigated by a third party;
- bb) the Consumer is below the age of 18 or otherwise legally incapacitated and not represented by a parent, guardian or lawyer;
- cc) the Consumer did not attempt to contact the Operator concerned in order to discuss his complaint and seek, as a first step, to resolve the matters directly with the Operator;
- dd) the dispute raised by the Consumer is frivolous or vexatious;
- ee) the dispute is being or has previously been considered by another ADR entity or by a competent court or tribunal;
ff) the dispute refers to a legal matter for which special complaint procedures are foreseen by law (e.g. GDPR related disputes);
- gg) the value of the claim falls below a value of Euro 50 or above a threshold of Euro 500.000;
- hh) the Consumer has not submitted the complaint to MADRE within one year from the date upon which the Consumer submitted the complaint to the Operator;
- ii) the Consumer has not provided a complete claims form and fails to submit missing information within 14 days after request from MADRE.
- MADRE can dsimiss a dispute during the proceedings should a reason for inadmissibility occur after initial acceptance of the dispute by MADRE.
- Decision on Admissibility and Appeal
aa) Should MADRE consider a dispute inadmissible on any of the grounds above, MADRE will inform the Consumer and the Operator with a reasoned written explanation of the grounds for not considering the dispute within three weeks of receiving the complaint file;
bb) A decision to hold a complaint inadmissible can be appealed by the Consumer and the Operator within one week after the notice to the MADRE Board. The Board will review the decision within four weeks from receipt of the Appeal;
cc) Decisions of MADRE can be appealed by the Consumer and the Operator within one week after the notice to the MADRE Board based claims of substantial legal or factual errors. The decision on the acceptance of such an appeal is under the sole discretion of the MADRE Board.
- Admissible disputes
3. Procedure of Dispute Settlement
- Consumers must submit a complete claims form including a concise and clear summary of the circumstances of the dispute. Consumers shall submit all documents which may assist in a better understanding of the case when submitting the dispute. Upon request by MADRE, the Consumer has to provide sufficient documentation to verify his identity. Operators shall submit any relevant documents when replying in the dispute.
- The dispute will be decided upon information submitted by the Parties. MADRE will use its reasonable efforts to resolve the dispute through reference to the Operator’s terms and conditions, the license conditions and a process of non-binding mediation between the Consumer and Operator.
- MADRE does not investigate the facts of the dispute and will not request additional documents or evidence unless essential information is missing to decide the case. Information provided by the Consumer after the opening of the case may not be considered.
- Should the Consumer or Operator not respond to an information request from MADRE within 14 days, MADRE may decide based on the decision presented by that time.
- Should the Operator fail to lodge a response within 14 days after receiving the claim by e-mail, a decision can be taken by default at MADRE’s sole discretion.
- Once a dispute has been referred to MADRE, the Consumer and the Operator should refrain from contacting each other and discussing the dispute. All communication should be channeled through MADRE.
- All correspondence between MADRE and the Parties will be by e-mail and will be accessible for the opposing party upon request. MADRE will not enter into any verbal communication with any Party regarding ongoing proceedings.
- Correspondence with MADRE shall be in English, or Maltese.
- Standard disputes will be handled by a single Arbitrator. Disputes above Euro 100.000 will be reviewed and decided by the Arbitrator and one or two experts.
- Should the Arbitrator be conflicted the dispute will be referred to an expert. The Arbitrator and any expert are obliged to inform the MADRE board whether he or she has any financial or personal interest in the outcome of the dispute or whether there exists any fact or circumstance or affiliation reasonably likely to create a presumption of bias. Upon receiving any such information MADRE may replace the person.
The Parties are not obliged to retain a lawyer or a legal advisor, but they may seek independent advice or be represented or assisted by a third party at any stage of the procedure.
Should a party opt for representation by a legal advisor, the respective mandate is to be evidenced to MADRE before a formal case can be opened.
Minors below the age of 18 must be represented by a parent, guardian or lawyer at any stage of the procedure.
5. Termination of Proceedings
The proceedings shall terminate when the Parties reach a settlement, or the Consumer declares that he has no interest in continuing the process and withdraws the claim.
MADRE will terminate the proceedings if it becomes known that a Party has breached confidentiality of the dispute settlement proceedings, especially if the dispute is reported to the media by one of the Parties.
MADRE will also terminate the proceedings if the Operator withdraws from MADRE.
6. Decision of MADRE
- MADRE will make every effort to conclude the dispute resolution process within ninety days of receiving the dispute and all other relevant information to enable the dispute to be processed.
- The Decision of MADRE will be delivered in print by postal service upon request by one of the Parties.
- In cases there the Operator has proposed non-binding proceedings under Section 2 a of these Rules of Procedure, the Parties shall inform MADRE whether they accept the proposed solution within two weeks after delivery of the solution. Should one or both Parties fail to reply, this shall be interpreted as acceptance of the decision.
- The proposed solution may be different from an outcome determined by a competent court or tribunal applying legal rules.
7. Recourse to Court
Participation in the MADRE procedure shall not preclude the possibility of seeking redress through court proceedings.
8. Confidentiality and Data Protection
Consumers and Operators are required to keep the details of disputes and resulting decisions confidential. All information, records, reports or other documents received by MADRE will be confidential. MADRE will not be compelled to divulge such records or to testify or give evidence in regard to the mediation in any adversary proceeding or judicial forum. The Parties will maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings and will not rely upon or introduce as evidence in any arbitral, judicial or other proceeding:
- views expressed or suggestions or offers made by another party or the mediator in the course of the mediation proceedings;
- admissions made by another party in the course of the mediation proceedings relating to the merits of the dispute;
- The final decision of MADRE may be used in judicial proceedings.
By submitting a dispute the Consumer consents to the transfer of any data from the Operator to MADRE which is relevant to the dispute. Upon request, MADRE will provide the Consumer and Operator with the evidence, documents and facts put forward by the other Party, including any statements made, or opinions given, by an expert. Information relating to fraud protection and AML measures adopted by the Operator will not be disclosed. MADRE might be prevented from disclosing submissions to the other Party if any data referring to third parties is contained therein.
MADRE will keep all data obtained during proceedings confidential and will handle them in strict compliance with all relevant data protection regulation.
By submitting to MADRE proceedings the Parties consent to the publication of the anonymized decision. Any publication will not disclose the Operator or Consumer details.
9. Limitation of Liability
MADRE accepts no liability for any loss, damage, loss of opportunity or inconvenience arising from any dispute between a Consumer and an approved license holder, the failure of a party to comply with the process and/or any agreement reached between the parties, the process itself, or the conduct of MADRE in relation to the dispute.
10. Dispute Settlement Fee
Dispute settlement at MADRE is free of charge for Consumers. For Operators the fee agreement applies.
11. Governing Law and Jurisdiction
Dispute resolution by MADRE is governed, construed and takes effect in accordance with the laws of Malta, in particular Consumer Affairs Act (CAP. 378) Consumer Alternative Dispute Resolution (General) Regulations, 2015 and MGA Directive 2 of 2018 (Player Protection Directive).
In case of conflict between different language versions of these Rules of Procedure, the English language version shall prevail.
Version: 7.0; Date of Issue: 16/06/2021