The procedure for requesting a trial de novo after judicial arbitration in California is the topic of this article. The main statutes governing judicial arbitration in California are found in Title 3, Chapter 2.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, specifically Sections 1140.10 through 1141.31, and Title Three, Division 8, Chapters 1 and 2, of the California Rules of Court, specifically Rules 3.800 through 3.830. The plain English name for a trial de novo is a new trial. De novo is actually a Latin expression meaning afresh, anew, or beginning again.
The filing of a timely request for a new trial results in the case being restored to the civil active calendar and proceeding to trial as if no arbitration had occurred.
However parties need to keep in mind that there are certain drawbacks to a new trial request which are briefly discussed below. And those drawbacks can be very expensive in certain cases. Proceeding without seriously considering both the pros and cons could prove to be a huge tactical mistake.
A judicial arbitration award in California is final without a request for a trial de novo is filed within 60 calendar days after the date that the arbitrator files the award with the Court required to Code of Civil Procedure Section 1141.20.
The time limit was only recently increased effective January 1, 2012. The California California Legislature amended Section 1141.20 in 2011.
The 60-day period within which to request trial may not be extended pursuant to the provisions of California Rule of Court 3.826.
The law in California requires that the party requesting the new trial must serve a copy upon all other parties appearing in the case.
It is therefore critical that a timely request be filed if a party is not satisfied with the amount of damages awarded, or the type of relief granted in the judicial arbitration.
One of the main drawbacks of requesting a new trial in California is the fact that if the sentence upon the trial de novo is not more favorable in either the amount of damages awarded or the type of relief granted for the party electing the trial de novo than the arbitration award, the court shall order that party to pay certain nonrefundable costs and fees without certain exceptions apply pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Section 1141.21.
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