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Arbitration is less formal than a trial and the rules of evidence are often relaxed. A neutral person, called an "arbitrator," hears the evidence and arguments of the parties and then makes a written decision. Private arbitrators are allowed to charge for their time.

The parties can agree that the arbitration be binding or non-binding. In a binding arbitration, the parties waive their right to a trial and agree to accept the arbitrator's decision as final. It is enforceable and completely resolves the case without the opportunity to appeal.

In a non-binding arbitration, the parties are free to request a trial if they do not accept the arbitrator’s decision.

Typically, arbitration is best suited for cases where the parties want another person to decide the outcome of the dispute but want to avoid the formality, time, and expense of a trial.

Arbitration may not be appropriate if the parties want to retain control over how the dispute is resolved.

With some exceptions, most civil cases with a monetary value not exceeding $50,000.00 for each plaintiff may be submitted to arbitration. See California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1141.10-1141.31.

Click here for list of court-approved arbitrators.

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