Code Section Group

Labor Code - LAB


  ( Heading of Division 4 amended by Stats. 1979, Ch. 373. )

PART 3.5. ARBITRATION [5270 - 5278]
  ( Part 3.5 added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 892, Sec. 44. )


This part shall not apply in cases where an injured employee or dependent is involved unless the employee or dependent is represented by an attorney.

(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 1550, Sec. 49.)


(a) The presiding workers’ compensation judge at each district office shall prepare a list of all eligible attorneys who apply to be placed on the list of eligible arbitrators. Attorneys are eligible to become arbitrators if they are active members of the California State Bar Association and are one of the following:

(1) A certified specialist in workers’ compensation, or eligible to become certified.

(2) A retired workers’ compensation judge.

(3) A retired appeals board member.

(4) An attorney who has been certified to serve as a judge pro tempore.

(b) No attorney shall be included in a panel of arbitrators, if he or she has served as a judge in any proceeding involving the same case, or has represented, or whose firm has represented, any party in the same case.

(Added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 892, Sec. 44.)


(a) The parties to a dispute submitted for arbitration may select any eligible attorney from the list prepared by the presiding workers’ compensation judge to serve as arbitrator. However, when the disputed issue involves insurance coverage, the parties may select any attorney as arbitrator upon agreement of the parties.

(b) If the parties cannot select an arbitrator by agreement, either party may request the presiding workers’ compensation judge to assign a panel of five arbitrators selected at random from the list of eligible attorneys. No more than three arbitrators on a five-member panel may be defense attorneys, no more than three may be applicant’s attorneys, and no more than two may be retired workers’ compensation judges or appeals board commissioners.

(c) For each party in excess of one party in the capacity of employer and one party in the capacity of injured employee or lien claimant, the presiding judge shall randomly select two additional arbitrators to add to the panel. For each additional party in the capacity of employer, the presiding judge shall assign a retired workers’ compensation judge or retired appeals board commissioner and an applicant’s attorney. For each additional party in the capacity of injured employee or lien claimant, the presiding judge shall assign a retired workers’ compensation judge or retired appeals board commissioner and a defense attorney. For each additional other party, the presiding judge shall assign two arbitrators to the panel, in order of rotation from case to case, as follows: a retired workers’ compensation judge or retired appeals board commissioner, an applicant’s attorney, a defense attorney.

(d) A party may petition the presiding workers’ compensation judge to remove a member from the panel pursuant to Section 170.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The presiding workers’ compensation judge shall assign another eligible attorney to replace any member removed under this subdivision.

(e) Each party or lien claimant shall strike two members from the panel, and the remaining attorney shall serve as arbitrator.

(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 1550, Sec. 50.)


Arbitrators shall have all of the statutory and regulatory duties and responsibilities of a workers’ compensation judge, as set forth in Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 5300) of Part 4, except for the following:

(a) Arbitrators shall have no power to order the injured worker to be examined by a qualified medical evaluator pursuant to Sections 5701 and 5703.5.

(b) Arbitrators shall not have power of contempt.

(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 1550, Sec. 51.)


(a) In disputes between an employee and an employer, the employer shall pay all costs related to the arbitration proceeding, including use of facilities, hearing reporter per diems and transcript costs.

(b) In all other disputes, the costs of the arbitration proceedings, including the arbitrator’s compensation, shall be paid as follows:

(1) By the parties equally in any dispute between an employer and an insurer, or an employer and a lien claimant.

(2) By the parties equally in proceedings subject to Section 5500.5.

(3) By the dependents in accordance with their proportionate share of death benefits, where there is no dispute as to the injury causing death.

(c) Disputes regarding the costs or fees for arbitration shall be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the appeals board, and shall be determined initially by the presiding judge of the district office.

(Amended by Stats. 1990, Ch. 1550, Sec. 52.)


(a) Disputes involving the following issues shall be submitted for arbitration:

(1) Insurance coverage.

(2) Right of contribution in accordance with Section 5500.5.

(b) By agreement of the parties, any issue arising under Division 1 (commencing with Section 50) or Division 4 (commencing with Section 3200) may be submitted for arbitration, regardless of the date of injury.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 6, Sec. 70.5. Effective January 1, 2003.)


(a) Arbitration proceedings may commence at any place and time agreed upon by all parties.

(b) If the parties cannot agree on a time or place to commence arbitration proceedings, the arbitrator shall order the date, time and place for commencement of the proceeding. Unless all parties agree otherwise, arbitration proceedings shall commence not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days from the date an arbitrator is selected.

(c) Ten days before the arbitration, each party shall submit to the arbitrator and serve on the opposing party reports, records and other documentary evidence on which that party intends to rely. If a party intends to rely upon excerpts of records or depositions, only copies of the excerpts shall be submitted to the arbitrator.

(Added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 892, Sec. 44.)


(a) The arbitrator’s findings and award shall be served on all parties within 30 days of submission of the case for decision.

(b) The arbitrator’s award shall comply with Section 5313 and shall be filed with the appeals board office pursuant to venue rules published by the appeals board.

(c) The findings of fact, award, order, or decision of the arbitrator shall have the same force and effect as an award, order, or decision of a workers’ compensation judge.

(d) Use of an arbitrator for any part of a proceeding or any issue shall not bind the parties to the use of the same arbitrator for any subsequent issues or proceedings.

(e) Unless all parties agree to a longer period of time, the failure of the arbitrator to submit the decision within 30 days shall result in forfeiture of the arbitrator’s fee and shall vacate the submission order and all stipulations.

(f)  The presiding workers’ compensation judge may submit supplemental proceedings to arbitration pursuant to this part.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 538, Sec. 490. Effective January 1, 2007.)


(a) No disclosure of any offers of settlement made by any party shall be made to the arbitrator prior to the filing of the award.

(b) Article 7 (commencing with Section 11430.10) of Chapter 4.5 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code applies to a communication to the arbitrator or a potential arbitrator.

(Amended by Stats. 1995, Ch. 938, Sec. 75. Effective January 1, 1996. Operative July 1, 1997, by Sec. 98 of Ch. 938.)

LABLabor Code - LAB