SUBJECT

Proposed Revisions to the Guidelines and Minimum Standards for the Operation of Mandatory Fee Arbitration Programs-request for public comment concerning proposed paragraphs 16 and 19.

BACKGROUND

The State Bar of California publishes "Guidelines and Minimum Standards for the Operation of Mandatory Fee Arbitration Programs" ("Guidelines") for local bar association programs that offer mandatory fee arbitration for clients and attorneys to resolve disputes as to attorney's fees and costs. Currently, 44 such local bar programs exist in California. The Guidelines and Minimum Standards provide these local bar programs with standards for operating a mandatory fee arbitration program that comply with Business and Professions Code (Bus. & Prof. Code, §6200 et seq.).

PROPOSAL

Two amendments are proposed for public comment as summarized below.

Paragraph 16: Eliminate from the required award form language the automatic provision providing a space for whether pre-award interest is awarded, and substituting in a provision for automatic post-award interest in the amount of ten percent per annum after 30 days from service of the award.

Paragraph 19: Include a new statement prohibiting the program from placing, as a condition to entitlement to a three member panel, a party's waiver of the right to non-binding fee arbitration. The current requirement that any monetary threshold for obtaining a three member panel be "reasonable" is the only appropriate standard that should control. Any program's additional requirement that a party (or both parties) also agree to binding arbitration, even when the monetary threshold has been met, in order to obtain a three member panel is contrary to the mandatory fee arbitration statutory scheme which guarantees the right to non-binding fee arbitration and collateral right to a new trial.

 

FISCAL/PERSONNEL IMPACT

None.

ATTACHMENTS
SOURCE

State Bar Board Discipline Oversight Committee, March 4, 2010, Agenda Item #II.B

COMMENT DEADLINE

April 21, 2010

DIRECT COMMENTS TO:

Jill Sperber, Director
Office of Mandatory Fee Arbitration
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
415-538-2023
415-538-2335 Fax