Revised July 1, 2007
SC-101, Page 2 of 2
How long do I have to ask for a trial?
You have up to 30 days after the date the Notice of
Award was mailed to you. Look for the date on the
bottom of the notice. If you do not ask for a trial within
30 days, the award will become binding.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is when a neutral person (an arbitrator) hears
evidence from each side and then makes a decision
(award) in your case. It is less formal than a trial in court.
Do I have to use arbitration for this dispute?
In most cases, yes. The only exceptions are:
• Parties who did not sign an agreement to arbitrate
fee disputes and
• Clients who do not want to use arbitration. The
attorney must use arbitration if the client asks for it.
What is nonbinding arbitration?
Nonbinding arbitration allows you or the other side to ask
for a trial if either of you does not like the arbitrator’s
decision. You have 30 days after the notice is mailed to
ask for a trial.
What is binding arbitration?
Binding arbitration means you and the other side gave up
your right to a trial and must accept the arbitrator’s
decision. Your arbitration is binding if:
• Both sides agreed to binding arbitration in writing
(after they disagreed about fees or costs) or
• 30 days or more have gone by since the nonbinding
decision was mailed.
What if I am not happy with the award?
You can ask the court to correct the award if it contains
an obvious mistake in calculating a number or describing
a person, thing, or property. (See page 1, item 5b.)
You can ask the court to vacate (cancel) the award if
certain kinds of misconduct or mistakes happened in the
arbitration. (See page 1, item 5c.)
You can reject the award and ask for a trial if you and
the other party did not agree in writing to binding
arbitration. (See page 1, item 5d.)
If no lawsuit has been filed about the fee disagreement, file
in the court of the county where the arbitration was held
and ask for a trial or ask the court to confirm, correct, o r
vacate the award.
• If the amount in disagreement is $5,000 or less, file
in small claims court. Use Forms SC-100 and
• If the amount in disagreement is more than $5,000,
file in superior court. See Form ADR-105.
Mandatory Fee Arbitration
180 Howard Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
California has special laws for arbitration of disputes
over attorney fees. For more information, see:
• State Bar of California Web site: www.calbar.org
• Form ADR-105, Information Regarding Rights
After Attorney-Client Fee Arbitration
• Cal. Business & Professions Code, §§ 6200–6206
What if an attorney doesn't pay the award?
If an attorney doesn't pay the award, the State Bar can
help you. If you don’t receive the award in 100 days
after receiving the Notice of the Award, or if the award
becomes a final judgment, contact the State Bar at:
If the award is binding and it says the other party owes
you money, send a letter asking to be paid within a
reasonable time. If you don’t get paid, ask the co urt to
“confirm” the award. This allows you to ask the court to
order payment from the other party’s pa ycheck, bank
accounts or property. You must do this within 4 years
after the notice of award. (See page 1, item 5a.)
What if I agree with the award?
If your award is nonbinding and the other party does not
file papers asking for a trial, the award becomes binding in
Attorney Fee Dispute (After Arbitration)
(Attachm ent to Plaintiff's Cl aim and ORDER to Go to Small Claims Court)
Which court do I use for a trial or to confirm,
correct, or vacate the award?
If a lawsuit has already been filed about the fee
disagreement, file your papers in the same court and use
same case number as in that lawsuit. (Before filing, you
must serve all parties named in the claim.)
How long do I have to ask the court to vacate or
correct the award?
In most cases you have up to 100 days after the date the
Notice of Award was mailed to you. But if the other side
asks the court to confirm, correct, or vacate the award,
you must ask the court to correct or vacate the award
before the court’s deadline to answer the other side’s
request. Your Small Claims Advisor can give you more
information on court deadlines.
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