ADR Mandatory Arbitration Best Practices Committee Update

Arbitration Best Practices Efforts with Clackamas, Multnomah, Marion and Washington Counties
by Rudy Lachenmeyer, ADR Section Chair

    For those of you wondering about the status of our ADR Mandatory Arbitration Best Practices Committee’s Work, let me bring you up to date. First of all Lane County is busy getting their Arbitration Commission re-established and wasn’t interested or maybe just not ready to participate. Judge Velure did talk to me early on but believes they have more in common with other smaller counties then they do with Marion, Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington County, all of which have provided arbitration experienced representatives who are part of our large committee that has met three times so far and scheduled to meet again on the 25th of June. All four counties have agreed to try to collect email addresses from pro se parties to make setting arbitrations easier and more efficient. Despite some counties having rules that require the arbitration to be in that county if the parties both want it there, all have agreed to allow Zoom or other electronic arbitrations if the arbitrator wants to do so. Nearly all arbitrations since Covid have been by Zoom and I don’t think there is any going back as we have all gotten used to it and have found it very efficient and saves time and money because there is almost no travel being billed. However there are still a few folks that don’t have either a smart phone or a computer so other means such as telephone hearings may occasionally be needed and in person hearings are still possible of course.

     There has been considerable support for trying to get uniform forms that can be used in all counties and that is where we are working hard at the moment. Multnomah has a 90 day rule for setting arbitration but it was from when the case was assigned to arbitration and Washington’s 90 day rule is from when the arbitrator is appointed. Clackamas was at 49 days and Marion at 77 days with an explanation that too frequent resets was why they abandoned the 49 day rule. Now all have agreed to the 90 days from the assignment to an arbitrator, but Multnomah, Clackamas and Marion County’s rules won’t go into effect until or unless the SLRs are accepted and implemented in February of 2025. All four counties agree to move to forms that can be filled in on line, but that will take time for programming once uniform rules are agreed to, and individual differences may prevent some rules from being agreed to.

     All four counties have had their arbitration fee schedules which were unchanged for quite a number of years despite inflation and proof from the Bar Survey’s that fees have increased dramatically every 4 years. All counties had some judges that felt that some part of the arbitration fees should be pro bono. The arbitrators on the best practices committee felt that a 25% discount was enough and asked each county to consider 75% of the median current hourly rates taken from the last bar survey appropriate. Clackamas County has tentatively agreed and will be going to $250 an hour February 1st of 2025 if their proposed SLR changes make it to the finish line. Multnomah is tentatively agreed to $200 and hour and if it is not changed I believe will go into effect in August of this year. Meanwhile Marion County has already put into effect a $200 an hour rate as you can see from the attached info from Marion County. See both their Arbitration Compensation Schedule and their Arbitration Instructions and Forms, both with May 2024 effective dates. So far Washington County has not indicated whether they will be increasing their fees.

     We will attempt to keep adding information to our website as more agreements are reached.

Civil File Additional Information Sheet

Notice Appointment of Arbitration

Marion County Arbitration Instructions

Marion County Arbitrator Compensations