At any time before a hearing under this article is commenced before the Commissioner, either party to a franchise agreement for the sale or service of passenger cars, pickup trucks or trucks may demand that a dispute be submitted to nonbinding mediation as a condition precedent to the right to a hearing before the Commissioner.A demand for mediation may be served on the other party and shall be filed with the Commissioner at any time before a hearing is commenced by the Commissioner. The service of the demand for mediation shall, of itself, toll the time required to file requests for hearings and for the time for commencing and completing hearings under this article until mediation is concluded.A demand for mediation shall be in writing and shall be served upon the other party by certified mail at an address designated in the franchise agreement or in the records of the Department. The demand for mediation shall contain a brief statement of the dispute and the relief sought by the party filing the demand.Within ten days after the date on which the demand for mediation is served, the Commissioner shall select one mediator from his approved list of mediators or from the lists of hearing officers as set forth in § 2.2-4024. Within twenty-five days of the date of demand, the parties shall meet with the mediator for the purpose of attempting to resolve the dispute. The meeting place shall be within the Commonwealth at a location selected by the mediator. The mediator may extend the date of the meeting for good cause shown by either party or upon the stipulation of both parties.
1994, c. 418.