Milestone Dispute Resolution Policy
This Policy sets out the dispute process to be followed when a Buyer and Seller who have used the Milestone Payment system elect to use to the Milestone Dispute Resolution process to resolve a dispute between them.
The Milestone Dispute Team
Both parties of the Dispute case can elect to have their dispute arbitrated by the Dispute Team. The role of the Dispute Team extends to making all actions necessary to resolve the case in an impartial and evidential manner. You acknowledge that the verdict of the Dispute Team is final, binding, and irreversible.
Once a dispute is opened, a Buyer is given 14 days to respond to it. Otherwise, they will automatically lose the dispute and the pending Milestone will be transferred to the Seller's account.
Once a dispute is opened, a Seller is given 4 days to respond to it. Otherwise, they will automatically lose the dispute and the pending Milestone will be returned to the Buyer's account.
Milestone Dispute Resolution Process
STAGE 1 - Identifying the issue
The complainant should select the Project and the Milestone payment or payments to be disputed. A User could contest all the Milestones related to a single project in one dispute.
After which, a description of the issue and an explanation of why the dispute is being opened should be given. From this stage until Stage 3, users are encouraged to attach any files that could support their claims.
Finally, the complainant is requested to enter the amount he or she is prepared to pay for the Project (if a Buyer) or wish to get paid for the Project (if a Seller). The amount could be between 0 and the total amount of the Milestone Payment(s) in question.
STAGE 2 - Negotiations
At this stage, either party can negotiate for partial compensation, or (after a period of time) choose to have Freelancer's Dispute Team arbitrate the dispute. Both parties will have the opportunity to tell their side of the story and also negotiate terms to resolve the issue between themselves.
Only the party who originally filed for the dispute can cancel the dispute. If the issue cannot be resolved through negotiation, either party can choose to pay the Arbitration Fee to have the dispute arbitrated by the Dispute Team. The Arbitration Fee will be refunded if the dispute is either settled through mutual agreement or cancelled before reaching arbitration.
STAGE 3 - Final Offers and Evidence
After one of the involved parties has paid the Arbitration Fee, the other party has 4 days to also pay the fee. Either party still has the option in this period to negotiate with the other party.
If the responding party does not pay the arbitration fee within the 4 days, the result will be in favour of the party who escalated the dispute into arbitration first.
If a solution is found before the responding party pays the fee, the party who paid the Arbitration Fee will be refunded this fee.
Stage 3 is the last stage where both Users can submit their final evidence to support their case. After Stage 3, the involved parties are no longer allowed to submit evidence. The dispute will be resolved based upon the evidence provided through the Dispute System, or that is otherwise available to the Dispute Team, such as the project description and correspondence between the parties.
Once the dispute has proceeded to Stage 4, further evidence will no longer be accepted.
STAGE 4 - Arbitration
At Stage 4, the Dispute Team will review all evidence and other information provided to reach a decision (usually within 48 hours). Dispute verdicts are final, binding, and irreversible. The party who wins the dispute will be refunded their Arbitration Fee.
In the event that one of the parties of the Dispute has paid the Arbitration Fee, the other party will be given 4 days to pay the Arbitration Fee to move into Arbitration, and failure to do such will close the dispute by default, in favor of the party who initiated stage 4, with the arbitration fee initially paid refunded.
Evidential Requirements for Your Dispute
Should you elect to have the Dispute Team arbitrate your dispute, you agree to allow the Dispute Team to read all correspondence made on the Site and download or access, and test (if necessary), all uploaded files, programs, and websites related to the dispute for the sole purpose of having your dispute resolved.
You are highly encouraged to submit all the documents that would support your claims on your dispute.
Submit e-mail correspondences as screenshots or as *.eml files. If submitting screenshots, ensure that the "To", "From", and the "Date" bar is visible. E-mail correspondences sent in *.txt or *.doc or any word processing software will not be honoured. For proof of external correspondence, users should provide screenshots of their entire unedited conversation.
IM (instant messenger) conversations should be submitted as screenshots of the conversation from the IM software. Correspondences sent in *.txt, *.doc, or any word processing software will not be honoured.
Provide the products, contracts, and other files relating to the project and the dispute.
Freelancer will retain the confidentiality of the project and the privacy of the involved users and will not release the collected information to any party unless required by law.
The fee for a milestone dispute is $5.00 USD or 5%, whichever is greater, payable by each party. The fee will then be refunded to the winner of the dispute. See the Fees and Charges page for details.