Proposed Revisions to the State Bar’s Rules of Procedure for Fee Arbitrations
In March 2010, the Board of Governors approved revisions to the State Bar’s Model Rules of Procedure for Fee Arbitrations. California’s 45 local bar fee arbitration programs are encouraged, though not required, to adopt the Model Rules to ensure that programs are in compliance with State Bar’s Guidelines and Minimum Standards for the Operation of Mandatory Fee Arbitration Programs (“Minimum Standards”) and the law.
At the request of the State Bar’s Committee on Mandatory Fee,Arbitration (“MFA Committee”), the Board’s Discipline Oversight Committee (“DOC”) released the proposed revisions to the State Bar’s Rules of Procedure for its own fee arbitration program for public comment for a period of 30 days.
Suggested revisions to the State Bar’s Rules of Procedure, adopting already approved Model Rules changes, would:
- Define lay arbitrator consistent with Minimum Standard para. 20
- Expand definition of trial to include private arbitration following non-binding fee arbitration, as established by Schatz v. Allen Matkins (2009) 45 Cal.4th557;
- Set forth statutory requirement of lawyer’s notice to client of right to fee arbitration to comply with Minimum Standards;
- Provide for notice of attorney responsibility prior to service of notice of assignment of panel consistent with Minimum Standards;
- Permit dismissal “with prejudice” when parties have settled to permit re-filing if settlement terms are not satisfied;
- Set forth requirement that judges be enrolled with State Bar on active status to serve as a fee arbitration consistent with Minimum Standards;
- Provide for automatic post-award interest in award, deleting from the required language of an award an automatic pre-award interest consideration;
- Include option to request arbitrator amendment of award, consistent with Karton v. Segreto (2009) 176 Ca.App.4th1; and
- Provide for discretionary referral by arbitrator or program of attorney’s misconduct to State Bar consistent with Minimum Standards.
ANY KNOWN FISCAL/PERSONNEL IMPACT
State Bar Board Discipline Oversight Committee (DOC)
June 15, 2010
DIRECT COMMENTS TO:
Jill Sperber, Director
The State Bar of California
Office of Mandatory Fee Arbitration
180 Howard St., 6th Flr.
San Francisco, CA 94105