March 24, 2023
Information Sheet (FAQs)

What is Judicial Arbitration?

Judicial Arbitration is like a trial. But it is less formal and there is no jury. Each side presents its case to a "neutral" person, also called "arbitrator." The arbitrator is either a lawyer or a retired judge.

The arbitrator's decision is usually "non-binding." This means the parties can accept or reject the decision.

If both parties agree to "binding" arbitration, they must accept the arbitrator's decision.


Who has to go to Judicial Arbitration?

In our county, the lawyers and/or the parties (if they do not have a lawyer) must go to the arbitration hearing. If you do not go, the arbitration can take place without you being there and you may have to pay a fine.


What if neither party wants arbitration?

If all parties reject arbitration, they can ask the court to "vacate" arbitration and put the case back on the trial calendar or to send it to mediation. If the parties want to switch from arbitration to mediation, they need to complete a Stipulation and Proposed Order To Mediation In Lieu of Court-Ordered Judicial Arbitration and file it with the court clerk's office.


What is the time limit to complete discovery?

Each side must finish gathering evidence from the other party (called discovery) at least 15 days before the hearing, unless the court says otherwise.


Can the hearing be postponed?

Unless a court orders otherwise, the arbitration must take place within 90 days after the arbitrator is assigned.

If you want to continue your hearing, you must ask the court for permission if the date is beyond the arbitrator's jurisdiction. To do this, you will need to submit an Ex Parte Motion and Stipulation to Extend Jurisdiction of Arbitrator form.


What if the parties want to settle before the hearing?

If you settle before the hearing, you must notify the arbitrator and the Arbitration Administrator immediately. You must do this at least 2 days before your hearing date.


What if one party files for bankruptcy?

If there is only one defendant in the case and that defendant files for bankruptcy, the case is put on hold ("stayed"). The hearing cannot take place until the bankruptcy case is decided. If there is more than one defendant, sometimes the case will go forward with the participation of the remaining defendants.



What does the arbitrator do?

The arbitrator sends both parties a Notice with the date of the hearing and identifying himself as arbitrator for your case. The arbitrator has a specific timeframe to hold the hearing and make a decision.

The arbitrator will decide the case based on the law, facts and evidence presented by each side. The decision is called an Arbitration Award.


How to get ready?

Organize your arguments, identify and organize evidence and testimony that support your arguments. The arbitrator will usually ask for an Arbitration brief at least 5 days before the hearing. Your brief should contain:

  • The names of the parties
  • Summary of the facts of the case
  • The case law and statutes related to the case
  • Copies of important documents (like, police reports, contracts, etc.)

Remember: You must follow California Rules of Court, CRC 3.823.


When will the arbitrator decide?

The arbitrator will decide the case within 10 days of the hearing. The arbitrator will send a copy of the award to the parties and the original to the Arbitration Administrator with a proof of service attached. If the case is very complicated, the Court may give the arbitrator 20 days more to decide your case.


How long do I have to ask for a new trial?

You have 60 days from the filing of the arbitration award to ask for a new trial (trial de novo). If you ask for a new trial, your case will go back on the list of active civil cases. The court will assign a date for your mandatory settlement conference and trial. If neither party asks for a new trial within 60 days, the award is final and entered as a judgment. If neither party asks for a new trial within 60 days and if there is no request for dismissal on file than the award is final and entered as a judgment.


How much do I pay for arbitration?

The court will pay the arbitrator $150.00 per case. If your case is complicated and takes more than 3 hours, the arbitrator may ask for more money, which is also paid by the court.


What if we don't finish the arbitration by the deadline?

If you do not finish arbitration by the deadline and the court did not give you permission to continue your hearing, the court will set your case for an Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing. You will have to explain to the judge why the arbitration has not been completed.


What if parties request a dismissal?

A request for dismissal will stop the arbitrator's award from being entered as a judgment.


Need more information

For more information you may contact:
Arbitration Administrator: (650) 261-5075 or (650) 261-5076

Or write:
Arbitration Administrator
San Mateo Superior
400 County Center, 2nd Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063


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