Arbitration & Court Directed Mediation
Arbitration is sometimes used as a less formal alternative to trial. 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. See California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1141.10-1141.31.
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 before a Judge or Judicial Officer.
Arbitration may not be appropriate if the parties want to retain control over how the dispute is resolved.
Court Directed Mediation
In the Court-Directed Mediation Program, the Court determines those cases suitable and announces the determination orally to the parties at a case management conference in civil cases when the case is set for trial.
If the parties accept the Court's determination and agree to mediation, the Court will assign the case for mediation before one of two mediators, one of whom shall be the assigned mediator and the other an alternate who shall take the case in the event of a conflict of interest by the assigned mediator.
Mediators on the Court-Directed Mediation Panel volunteer their preparation time and the first two hours of mediation. After two hours of mediation, the mediator may
- continue to volunteer his/her own time,
- give the parties the option of concluding the procedure, or
- if both parties and the mediator agree, the mediator will continue at the rate of $200.00 per hour. After eight hours in one or more mediation sessions, if all parties agree, the mediator may charge his or her hourly rate or such other rate that all parties agree to pay.
The assigned mediator and the parties shall use the Mediation and Confidentiality Agreement and shall set forth the terms of the engagement, including, but not limited to, a specific enumeration of the pro bono hours, the parties option to continue mediation on a specific fee basis after the pro bono hours have been spent, confidentiality, disclosure of conflicts of interest, and the incorporation by reference of the Mediation Program local rules. The mediation agreement shall be fully signed before the commencement of the mediation session.
The mediator will also request that the participants complete a short survey at the conclusion of the mediation. This survey is used to improve the program and to report general information to the Administrative Offices of the Court. Click here for survey.
For more information, the Court-Directed Mediation Program Rules can be found at Local Rule 6.12, click here.