SECTION 11: HEARING PROCEDURES
If a Participant and/or Subscriber has reason to believe that any fine has been improperly imposed, the Participant may, upon paying the fine, request a hearing by filing an MLS hearing request within twenty (20) business days after receiving notice of the violation.
All hearings and procedures shall be conducted in accordance with the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual for the National Association of REALTORS® unless otherwise provided in these Compliance Guidelines as promulgated hereunder.
1. DETERMINATION FOR A HEARING. If the MLS staff determines that the Participant and/or Subscriber is able to show compliance with the MLS Rules and Regulations and that the fine was erroneous, the matter shall be dismissed and the fine reimbursed. If the MLS staff is not satisfied that the Participant and/or Subscriber was in compliance with the MLS Rules and Regulations, the matter shall proceed to a hearing. MLS staff shall notify the Participant of the hearing date in writing not less than twenty-one (21) business days prior to the hearing. Hearings are conducted before an MLS Hearing Panel.
2. NOTICE. Along with the notice of hearing, the MLS staff will send the Participant requesting the hearing, the names of the MLS Hearing Panel members scheduled to appear at the hearing and the list of alternates. When the Participant has good cause, the Participant may request the substitution of an alternate to sit on the MLS Hearing Panel. Substitution requests must be made at least fifteen (15) business days before the hearing date. The Participant must provide a written detailed explanation for the substitution request. The MLS staff will review the request and schedule an alternate when appropriate. If the MLS staff does not hear from the Participant, it will be assumed that the scheduled panel is acceptable. Last minute emergency absences by scheduled MLS Hearing Panel members will be filled with an alternate. Any MLS Hearing Panel member may be disqualified at any time if the other MLS Hearing Panel members are made aware of any grounds of automatic disqualification or find any new or undiscovered facts which, in their judgment, may prevent, or appear to prevent, a member of the MLS Hearing Panel from rendering an impartial decision.
3. MLS RULES VIOLATION COMMITTEE. In January of each year, the President of the MLSOK Board shall appoint fifteen (15) Participants to serve on the MLS Rules Violation Committee for a one (1) year term. Each MLS Hearing Panel shall be comprised of three (3) members of the MLS Rules Violation Committee and one (1) non-voting chair for procedural oversight. The remaining members shall be alternates.
4. REQUESTS FOR DOCUMENTS. Members of the MLS Hearing Panel scheduled for a hearing may request any documents from the Participant filing the hearing request that are deemed relevant and necessary to the determination of the hearing. The Participant requesting the hearing shall provide the documents requested by the MLS Hearing Panel within ten (10) business days of such request unless the Participant makes a reasonable explanation for failure to provide them.
5. REQUEST FOR CONTINUANCE OF HEARING. If the Participant fails to appear at the hearing and has not requested a continuance, the hearing shall proceed as scheduled. A continuance may be granted if approved by the MLS Hearing Committee. A request for continuance must be made in writing to the MLS staff two (2) business days prior to the hearing date. When there is a continuance, the Participant shall be notified by the MLS staff of the rescheduled hearing date.
6. REQUEST FOR CANCELLATION OF HEARING. The Participant who requested the MLS hearing may cancel the request. The request must be in writing and received by electronic transmission by 12:00 p.m. CST of the business day preceding the hearing date. The Participant waives the right to contest the fine that was the subject of said hearing.
7. RECORDING THE HEARING. The MLS staff shall electronically record the hearing. Any other party may, at his/her own expense, have a court reporter present or record the hearing electronically. If the hearing is transcribed, a complete, unedited transcript shall be provided to the MLS staff within five (5) business days from the date of the hearing.
8. PROCEDURES. The hearing shall not exceed two (2) hours in length. The MLS Hearing Panel shall not be bound by the rules of evidence applicable in courts of law but shall afford all parties a full opportunity to be heard, present witnesses, and offer evidence subject to its judgment as to relevance.
9. HEARING DECISION. The MLS Hearing Panel will submit its decision in writing, signed by all panel members and chair, to the MLS staff and the Participant requesting the hearing within ten (10) business days of the hearing. If a majority of the MLS Hearing Panel finds that the MLS Rules and Regulations have been violated, the MLS Hearing Panel can affirm, or reduce the fine. If a majority of the MLS Hearing Panel finds that the MLS Rules and Regulations have not been violated, the fine shall be refunded. If the fine is reduced, the appropriate amount will be refunded to the Participant within ten (10) business days after receipt of the decision, unless an appeal is filed.
SECTION 12: APPEALS.
If a Participant and/or Subscriber believes that the decision of the MLS Hearing Panel is incorrect, the Participant may file a written appeal to the Board of Directors of MLSOK within ten (10) business days after receipt of the decision. The Board of Directors shall consider only the documentation presented to the Panel and shall render a decision based on that documentation. All decisions of the Board of Directors shall be final, and any fine paid shall be upheld. In the event the decision is completely reversed, any fine shall be refunded within ten (10) business days of the decision of the Board of Directors.