0. Intro

CAcert's forum of dispute resolution is an administered Arbitration. The forum is ruled by the Dispute Resolution Policy, COD7.

The forum is chaired by the Arbitration Manager, who appoints Arbitrators and Case Managers for handling disputes filed to the Dispute Resolution forum. A core role in the process of dispute resolution is the Case Manager, who assists the Arbitrator in all process and technical details.

Role of CM

The CM's role is to monitor and assist the flow of the case. This role includes the following actions:

The above list was inspired by "Advantages of administrated arbitration," Joyce J. George, AAA/DJR.

This Document

This document is a "practices" handbook or guideline for the Case Manager's tasks. It is currently not seen as a formal policy.

1. Case Initiation

Case Designation

When the issue is first presented to the support channels, it needs to be identified as a case, or a more routine support issue. This requires some judgement on the part of support personnel. It is not covered further here, refer to SE's Guidelines for Support of Arbitration. This part of the decision procedure is logged with date of submission, subject and details and reasoning for later review by the support channels.

"Filing" the Case

Once so designated, the support issue becomes a dispute resolution case. The first task is to collect the headline information, assign a unique case number, and file it.

Case Number

The Case Number System is a variant within CAcert's decision number system, with a lowercase letter 'a', a sortable date, and an index number. For example, if this year Santa Clause fails to deliver the necessary goods on Christmas Eve, a dispute filed against him the next day would be labelled as a20071225.1.

This dispute might then accompanied by Rulings that are delivered at a later time, again numbered to date: a20071215.1/r20080101.1 would be the Arbitrator's Ruling on New Year's Day to demand Santa Claus to return next year. The case documentation would need to refer to Rulings.

Case Headlines

There are these essential data filed in the case file.

Case File

The case is filed in a wiki file under the Arbitrations directory in this format: http://wiki.cacert.org/wiki/Arbitrations/a20071225.1/


Ordinarily, the existence and Rulings of cases are published. This is met by publishing the wiki page that details the Case File above, so includes names of parties, summary of complaint, and remedy asked for.

If there are exceptional details in the filing, the CM may make a judgement call to keep the filing unpublished (which means unavailable for public scrutiny). CM should immediately advise the Arbitration Manager, and the selected Arbitrator, who will review and may reverse the decision. In either case, the case is still filed, but the details within the filing has to be kept private somehow (either by ACLs or separate files).

It should be stressed that the Arbitration forum is designed to be an open process to ensure fair play, and any decision for unpublished proceedings will trigger other oversights. It should be a very rare and exceptional condition for a case to remain unpublished.

"Service" of the Case to all Parties

Once the case file is established, all parties that are named need to be notified of the case. This must be done as quickly as possible. The "service of notice" is essential to bring the people into the jurisdiction of the forum. Any delay in notification or failure in this procedure may negatively impact the case.

Service of the case is achieved by email. In the CCA there are clauses that ensure that the primary email is kept up to date, and that official emails such as service are sent to this email address.

Although service to the email address is sufficient, the Case Manager should be aware of email rejections and the like, and attempt other methods to a reasonable extent.

2. Selection of Arbitrator

Once the case is properly filed ("logged") then the selection of the Arbitrator begins.

First step is to advise the Arbitration Manager and other Arbitrators of the existence of the case. Until an Arbitrator is selected, the Arbitration Manager stands in as the Arbitrator.

Routine Lottery

Case Manager consults the list of Arbitrators.

Override in Complex cases

Until the allocation of the Arbitrator, the Arbitration Manager may intervene and change the allocation system. For example, an experienced Arbitrator more familiar with the case topic might be allocated, or a junior Arbitrator selected for light cases. CAcert's requirement is to train new Arbitrators so allocation for light cases will often be based on training needs.

Once the allocation has occurred however, the Arbitration Manager has to request re-allocation from the allocated Arbitrator, who has the right to decline.

Allocation of the Case

Once allocated to the Arbitrator, control passes from the Arbitration Manager to the new Arbitrator. The CM stays on the case, and now works with the Arbitrator.

The CM notifies the parties of the selection of the Arbitrator. The CM makes available all applicable documents to the Arbitrator.

The First Call

The Arbitrator moves to write the first call. This involves reviewing all the documents applicable. The actual call will vary from case to case. The CM and the Arbitrator work closely together in this stage, so as to get the ball rolling. If any issues are determined, such as undue delays, they both have the responsibility to notify the Arbitration Manager.

Once prepared, the CM documents and sends the first call to the parties, as instructed by the Arbitrator.

3. The Ruling

The detailed follow-through of the Ruling is the responsibility of the Case Manager, and CM must refer this back to the Arbitrator when actions are not carried on.

Delivery of Ruling

Each Ruling of the Arbitrator will need to be delivered to the parties. If any orders are made, the effected groups also need to be notified. Delivery of Ruling to parties will generally be done directly by the Arbitrator by publishing the Ruling and mailing the parties.

The CM has responsibility to follow-up:

For example, if systems adminitrators or support personnel are instructed to make changes, they must be notified of the Ruling.

Visibility of Ruling

The CM must make sure that the Ruling is published and readable by the entire Community. This is because:

It is the CM's responsibility to make sure that the Ruling is presented quickly, clearly and safely.

Enactment of the Ruling

Although the Arbitrator has ultimate responsibility, the day-to-day and effective responsibility for ensuring the Ruling is carried out is passed almost completely to the CM. The CM has to follow through and ensure:

The Ruling is generally sufficient authorisation to carry out the actions required, and the technical team should quote the Ruling in every relevant place (logs, commit messages, email and chat messages).

However, as Rulings may be complex, the CM may need to explain and amplify the parts meant for them, or in an extreme case, refer questions back to the Arbitrator for amplification. CM should work closely with the people to spot the first signs of trouble, and to address them quickly.

Finalisation of the Ruling

When every detail of the Ruling is done, it reaches a status of 'COMPLETE'. Every part of the Ruling has then been enacted and verified by the CM.

The status for the Ruling is updated by CM on the wiki.

4. Closing the Case

Generally, the Case moves into its closing phase when the Arbitrator delivers a final Ruling.

Case moves to 'COMPLETE'

At the point where the Rulings are COMPLETE, the case itself moves to 'CLOSED'. Once the case is CLOSED, a brief message should be sent to the Arbitration list.

The Arbitrator may deliver many Rulings during the course of the Case, some early, others mid-way as partial results. The CM needs to aggregate and track all of them and keep the case open until all are COMPLETE.

Write-up of Lessons Learnt

This is also the time to reflect on the lessons learnt.

During the Case, it is most important to keep the Case flowing well to achieve the overall goal of reaching a good, efficient decision. This often means suppressing observations and differences.

If those observations and differences can now be turned into recommendations to better the overall process, now is the time to write them down and propose them to the Arbitration list.

4. Misc


The Case Manager is not permitted to give advice on the dispute itself. Independence of that issue must be strictly maintained in order to preserve the sense of fairness; the Arbitrator is in the hotseat for the dispute itself.

However, CM can give advice and help on the details and processes. When doing so, CM must maintain the balance of fairness, and may do so by means of delivering the same advice, or notifying the Arbitrator and the parties of the issues that have been raised.


On any event the CM notifies all parties, and CC's to the log. Events include (but are not limited to):


Ordinarily the proceedings are private but not confidential. Especially, the Arbitrator may grant readership to the proceedings to other Arbitrators, Auditor(s), etc. This must be notified to the parties.

Rulings and headline information are generally public.