What is Court-ordered Mediation?

The Riverside Superior Court participates in the Civil Action Mediation program (California Code of Civil Procedure, s 1775, et seq.)

This means that parties in most general civil cases valued at $50,000 or under may be ordered to judicial arbitration or court-ordered mediation.

  • Which cases are eligible for judicial arbitration or court-ordered mediation?
  • Eligible case types include personal injury, business, contracts, collections, employment, and certain real property matters.

    Case types that are not eligible include: probate, guardianship, conservatorship, family, custody and visitation, juvenile, small claims, small claim appeals, unlawful detainer, class actions, and certain civil petitions.

    However, these cases maybe eligible for other mediation programs. For more information click on the case types above.

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  • How are cases ordered to court-ordered mediation?
  • A judicial officer decides if a case is eligible and appropriate for Court-Ordered Mediation or mandatory judicial arbitration.

    This decision is usually made at the Case Management Conference (CMC) hearing, held about 180 days after the complaint is filed.

    The judicial officer will consider the Case Management Statements as well as information the parties present at the hearing.

    Therefore, in Case Management Statements and at the CMC hearing, parties should discuss their eligibility for court-ordered ADR, their preference for mediation or arbitration, and their proposed timelines for completing the process, considering the discovery and motions needed for the process to be meaningful and productive.

    Eligible parties who request Court-Ordered Mediation should be prepared to explain why mediation would be more effective than arbitration in their case. They should also be prepared to confirm that they will comply with all program requirements in return for receiving three (3) free hours of mediation services from the court and the Civil Mediation Panel.

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  • How do I decide between arbitration or mediation?
  • In most cases that are eligible for mandatory court-ordered ADR, the judicial officer will consider the parties’ preference for arbitration or mediation. Which process is more appropriate for your case?

    Judicial Arbitration may be appropriate when the parties:

    want to avoid a formal trial, but still want to present their evidence to a neutral person and have him/her decide the outcome of the case; and

    do not have personal or emotional issues that must be worked out in order to resolve the dispute.

    Judicial Arbitration is not appropriate when the parties:

    want to keep control over the outcome by working out their own solution; or
    want to improve communication with the other parties; or
    do not want to risk going through both arbitration and trial.

    Mediation may be appropriate when the parties:

    want to avoid a formal public trial or informal arbitration hearing; or
    want to work out a fair agreement but need help from a neutral person; or
    have communication problems or strong emotions that interfere with resolution; or
    have a continuing business or personal relationship.

    Mediation is not appropriate when the parties:

    want their public “day in court” or a judicial determination on points of law or fact; or
    lack equal bargaining power (one party is more powerful) or have a history of physical/emotional abuse; or
    are not willing or able to cooperate with each other and the mediator to schedule the session, prepare for the session or to participate in the session in good faith and with an open mind.


    Judicial Arbitration: No cost with a Judicial Arbitration Panel member. Private arbitrators may charge their market rates.

    Court-Ordered Mediation: No cost for the first three (3) hours of mediation services with a Civil Mediation Panel member. If the parties request additional time, the mediator may charge market or reduced rates, as agreed by the parties and the mediator. Private mediators may charge their market rates. The Court does not compensate private mediators for their services as private mediators.

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  • What happens after my case is ordered to court-ordered mediation?
  • Parties ordered to mediation under Local Rule, Title 3, Division 2, will receive a Notice of Court-Ordered Mediation stating their mediation completion date, a proposed randomly selected Civil Mediation Panel Member, and their duties under the program.

    Failure to comply with this Order may result in an Order to Show Cause Hearing re Sanctions. Therefore, parties and their attorneys should read this notice very carefully and calendar all key dates.

    Parties who need more time to complete the mediation must file the Stipulation and Order for Continuance of Court-Ordered Mediation Date. There is a $20 filing fee.

    Parties will also receive a Response to Notice of Court-Ordered Mediation to stipulate to the mediator of their choice.  This form must be filed with the court within 15 days of the Notice of Court-Ordered Mediation. If the Response is not timely filed, the previously identified randomly selected Civil Mediation Panel Member will be assigned to your case.

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  • What if mediation has to be cancelled because the case has settled or for any other reason?
  • If the parties have scheduled a mediation session with a Civil Mediation Panel mediator, they must notify the mediator of cancellation immediately and in no case less than two (2) days before the time set for hearing. Parties who fail to do so must pay the mediator $150 or risk an OSC and sanctions. CRC 3.1385 (a); Local Rule 3230.

© 2011 Superior Court of California, County of Riverside