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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.
Court-connected arbitrators have applied to the court and have been accepted by the Linn County Arbitration Commission to be on our arbitrator's list.
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.
The court is currently accepting applications to serve as an arbitrator. Please submit a resume and letter of interest to the Arbitration Coordinator. The Linn County Arbitration Commission will review your submitted documents at the next quarterly Commission meeting.
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 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.
The court refers a case to arbitration in civil cases. A Judge refers a case to Arbitration in domestic cases. Once the case is referred to arbitration, the court sends the parties a list of arbitrators, the parties either select an arbitrator from the list or stipulates to an agreed upon arbitrator.
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 $200 per hour, not to exceed $1000.00 except upon a showing of extraordinary conditions and with the approval of the Presiding Judge of Linn County Circuit Court.
If either or both parties are unable to afford the fees for arbitration, the indigent party may seek a waiver or deferral of the arbitration fees by filing an Application and Order with the Linn Co Circuit Court. Applications are available at the Linn County Circuit Court, Room 107. The completed Application and Order must be filed with the Linn County Circuit Court seven (14) days prior to the arbitration hearing date.
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 Linn County Circuit Court.
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 ArbitrationTransfer Date +14 = Motion / Exemption DueTransfer Date +21 = Arbitrator AssignedArbitrator Assigned Date +14 = Hearing Notice Due to CourtArbitrator Assigned Date +49 = Final Date for HearingHearing Date +14 = Award Due civil cases)Hearing Date +21 = Award Due (domestic relation cases)Award Date +20 = Appeal Due
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 Arbitration Appeal fee to the clerk of the court. This can be done in Room 107 of the Linn Co Circuit 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.
Court-mandated arbitration is governed by Oregon Revised Statutes 36.400-425, Uniform Trial Court Rules, Chapter 13 and Linn County Supplemental Local Rules, Chapter 13. Refer to these sections if you have questions, but if you still have an inquiry please contact the Linn County Arbitration Coordinator.
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