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What is arbitration?   Arbitration is a procedure, much like a trial but less formal.   Instead of a decision being made by a judge or jury, an arbitrator hears the evidence and makes a decision.   Like a judge, an arbitrator makes rulings on motions, decides the order in which witnesses appear and the testimony they give, and may impose penalties on a party who disobeys the arbitrator’s orders.   Like a jury, an arbitrator, after hearing the evidence, decides which side wins and which side loses, and what the result will be.

Who is an arbitrator?   Court-connected arbitrators have applied to the court and have been accepted by the Clackamas County Arbitration Commission to be on our arbitrator's list.   Application to serve as an arbitrator is available on the "Forms" page.   Pursuant to UTCR 13.090(1) “unless otherwise ordered or stipulated, an arbitrator must be a member of the Oregon State Bar, who has been admitted to any Bar for a minimum of five years, or a retired or senior judge.   The parties may stipulate to a non lawyer arbitrator.”  The arbitrator is either chosen by the parties and their attorneys or selected by a judge or court clerk.

Applications to Serve as an Arbitrator:   The court is currently accepting applications to serve as an arbitrator.  Effective March 30, 2010 there are new requirements for current arbitrators and those applying to serve as an arbitrator.  Please click here to view the Order Regarding Rules for Training and Continuing Education for Clackamas County Arbitrators, and the April 6, 2010 Letter to Arbitrators.  

Order Establishing Policy on Removal of Arbitrators from Court Approved List:  To view this order, please click here: Order Establishing Policy on Removal of Arbitrators From Court Approved List.

Order Regarding: (1) Arbitrator Requests for Excess Fees (2) Notice Required Before Arbitrator's Extended Absence or Retirement:  To view this order, please click here:  Order Regarding: (1) Arbitrator Requests for Excess Fees (2) Notice Required Before Arbitrator's Extended Absence or Retirement. 

What kind of cases go into arbitration?   There are two kinds of cases that go into arbitration.   The first kind is a civil lawsuit.   A civil lawsuit is a case where one party, the plaintiff, is suing another person or corporation, the defendant, for money.   Examples include a personal injury case from an automobile accident, a disagreement about a contract, or some other type of case that doesn't’t involve criminal charges.   In civil cases, the lawsuit goes into arbitration depending on the amount of money the plaintiff is asking for.   Cases less than $50,000 must go into arbitration.

The second kind of case that goes into arbitration is a domestic relations or family law case, where the parties are arguing about something other than custody or support.   An example is a case where the husband and wife cannot agree on how to divide their property and their debts.

How does a case end up in arbitration?   The court orders a case into arbitration.   Once the court order is entered, the court provides a list of arbitrators, and the parties can either select an arbitrator from the list or choose someone that both sides trust to make fair decisions.

What is the cost of arbitration?   Within 14 days of the appointment of the arbitrator, each party must tender to the arbitrator the sum of $500.00 as preliminary payment unless a party has secured a fee waiver or deferral, in which case the party must submit a copy of the order waiving or deferring arbitration fees to the arbitrator.   The Arbitration Commission has set the arbitrator’s fee at a rate of $175.00 per hour, not to exceed $1,400.00 except upon a showing of extraordinary conditions and with the approval of the Presiding Judge of Clackamas County Circuit Court. 

If either or both parties are unable to afford the cost of an arbitrator, the indigent party may seek deferral or waiver of arbitration fees by applying within 14 days from the date the case is transferred to arbitration.   Applications are available at the Clackamas County Circuit Court, Accounting and Traffic Unit, Room 104.   The fee deferral and application and order must be submitted to the Clackamas County Circuit Court, Accounting and Traffic Unit, Room 104 for review and submission to the assigned judge. 

In the event funds are available under ORS 36.420 and a fee deferral or waiver has been granted by the court, the arbitrator shall be reimbursed after completion of the arbitration, filing of the arbitration award, and submission of a request for payment to the Trial Court Administrator of the Clackamas County Circuit Court. 

How does arbitration work?   Arbitration is a way to keep the cost of lawsuits down and shorten the time it takes for a case to get resolved.   The arbitrator decides when motions and hearings are set.   Before the hearing, each side must give the arbitrator a list of the witnesses who will testify at the arbitration hearing and a description of any evidence that will be presented.

An arbitration hearing is more informal than a court proceeding, but the arbitrator is required to have witnesses swear that their testimony is true and allow the parties or their lawyers to ask questions and introduce evidence.   The arbitrator may ask questions of the witnesses or require that the parties or their lawyers submit other evidence after the hearing.   An arbitrator may also delay or continue a hearing to give each side a chance to get its entire case presented.   Because the rules of evidence are less strict in arbitration than in a trial, the parties may be able to save the cost of paying witnesses, such as doctors and other experts, by submitting their written reports instead.

An arbitrator should issue a decision within 14 days after the hearing is finished.

Listed below are common arbitration due dates.

Transfer Date


Date Transferred to Arbitration

Transfer Date

+14 =

Motion / Exemption Due

Transfer Date

+21 =

Arbitrator Assigned

Arbitrator Assigned Date

+14 =

Hearing Notice Due to Court

Arbitrator Assigned Date

+49 =

Final Date for Hearing

Hearing Date

+14 =

Award Due civil cases)

Hearing Date

+21 =

Award Due (domestic relation cases)

Award Date

+20 =

Appeal Due

Can an arbitrator decision be appealed?   In most cases, the decision of the arbitrator is either accepted by both sides, or both sides decide to settle the case.   If either side does not want to accept the arbitrator’s decision, the case may go back before a judge or jury for a decision.   A party wishing to appeal the arbitration award must do so within 20 days after the arbitration award is filed with the court, and must also pay $150 to the clerk of the court.

The case then goes to trial.   The judge or the jury deciding the case does not know what the arbitrator decided.   The party who ultimately loses the case may still be required to pay the winner’s share of the arbitration fees.   If an appealing party does not get a better result in the judge or jury trial, that party will lose the $150 they paid to have the appeal.

Who should I contact if I have further questions?  Court-mandated arbitration is governed by Oregon Revised Statutes 36.400-425, Uniform Trial Court Rules, Chapter 13 and Clackamas County Supplemental Local Rules, Chapter 13.   Refer to these sections if you have questions, but if you still have an inquiry please contact Regina Watkins, Judge Susie L. Norby's Judicial Assistant who is the Arbitration Coordinator for Clackamas County.   She can be contacted at:

E-Mail:   E-Mail Arbitration Coordinator
Fax:       503.650.8909
Voice:   503.650.8902

Are there arbitration forms available?  Arbitration forms are available on the "Forms" page on this website.