The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken steps to revise its procedural rules to improve its formal complaint proceedings.
Under the terms of a Report and Order issued in mid-July, the Commission has consolidated and streamlined its procedural rules for: 1) formal complaints against common carriers; 2) formal complaints regarding pole attachments; and 3) formal complaints concerning the accessibility of telecommunications and advanced communications services and equipment for people with disabilities.
Specifically, the rule changes will now require defendants to answer a complaint filed against them within 30 days, and complainants to file a reply within 10 days after that. The changes also include the adoption of a uniform approach to discovery in all complaint-related matters and require “executive-level” pre-filing settlement discussions in all formal compliant proceedings. Finally, the FCC says that it will strive to resolve all formal complaints within 270 days of the initial filing.
Importantly, the Commission’s action makes no changes to its procedures for handling informal consumer complaints.