Owners in dispute with their trainers can now resolve their differences out of court through mediation.
The ROA/NTF Training Agreement includes a section on the resolution of disputes (Clause 23).
A voluntary Dispute Resolution Scheme (DRS), backed by the ROA and NTF, is now in operation, allowing owners and trainers who are prepared to resolve disputes out of court to go for mediation. In order to take this route, both parties have to be willing to attend a half-day or day session in London at 4 New Square.
The mediation process is open to parties who are already seeking solicitors' advice elsewhere and parties may attend with or without their own lawyer. Rooms are made available, one for each party and one for an open discussion. Mediators discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the situation with the owner and trainer with a view to offering an acceptable solution. Neither party is bound to accept the advice given - it will not be imposed upon them.
An upfront fee is payable - based on a sliding scale and depending on the complexity of the individual case - and every case will additionally carry a minimum administration fee of £150. Applicants will be made aware of their financial commitments.
To date, each case dealt with by the DRS has resulted in a successful outcome. In addition, a special ROA/NTF Joint Account has been set up to lodge disputed sums in a neutral bank account.
Owners interested in the DRS should contact the ROA office, while trainers should contact the NTF.
Clause 21 of the ROA/NTF training agreement makes provision for an owner/trainer to pay a disputed sum into a joint account at Weatherbys controlled by the ROA and NTF. The money is held until the dispute is resolved. Payment into the account permits an owner to remove their horses from a trainer's yard whilst giving the trainer comfort that there are cleared funds available to settle the debt or the part of the debt that it is eventually agreed should be paid.
The ROA and NTF have agreed a set of simple terms and conditions as follows:
ROA/NTF Joint Holding Account
Name of Account
1. ROA/NTF Joint Holding Account.
Purpose of Account
2. To provide an account for use pursuant to clause 21 of the ROA/NTF standard training agreement, being an account into which an owner in dispute with a trainer can pay the amount claimed by the trainer, such money to be held on the basis set out below:
Conditions of money being held in Account
3. Money is accepted into the account on the basis that it is cleared funds of the owner concerned.
4. The money will be held in the Account by the ROA and NTF as stakeholder until resolution of the dispute between the trainer and the owner.
5. Any interest shall be credited to the capital but the ROA or the NTF shall be entitled to deduct a reasonable administrative charge from any such interest
6. Details of the rate of interest applicable to the account can be obtained from the ROA or the NTF. There is no obligation upon the ROA or the NTF to monitor the rate of interest payable nor to seek better rates of interest.
Payment of money from the Account
7. Funds can only be withdrawn from the account on the joint signatories of authorised officers of the ROA and the NTF.
8. Funds will only be paid out on the written authority of both parties to the dispute or their legal advisers or in accordance with a court or consent order. The ROA and the NTF reserve the right to ask for further evidence of agreement or authority to instruct if not satisfied with the instructions received.
9. No liability shall attach to the ROA or the NTF or any officers of either association for any loss occasioned to any party arising out of the use of the ROA/NTF Joint Holding Account.