The judge in your case will assign the case to the arbitration calendar after the discovery closure date. The discovery closure date is the day by which all the facts of the case and evidence you are going to need to use must be revealed or exchanged between the parties. A Supervising Arbitration Judge in each courthouse is in charge of the mandatory arbitration proceedings in their respective location. The arbitration hearing date and time are generated by the Clerk's Office no earlier than thirty days after discovery closing. You should receive a notification card in the mail about sixty days before the scheduled arbitration hearing.
Please note that if your case is set for arbitration with an order issued by the Supervising Arbitration Judge, you will not receive a notice of your hearing date in the mail. A copy of the order substitutes for the notice.
IMPORTANT: Make sure that Clerk's Office has your correct address and telephone number on file so the arbitration notice will be sent to the right place.
You need to call the Clerk of the Circuit Court at 312-603-5116 or check the electronic docket of your case on the Clerk's Office website at: www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org to make sure that your case was transferred to the arbitration calendar.
IMPORTANT: You are responsible for following the progress of your case and being aware of scheduled hearings. The arbitration staff may call you as a courtesy the day before to confirm your hearing, but you are responsible for attending your hearing regardless.
It is a good idea to call the Arbitration Center at the courthouse in which your cases is pending (or the Arbitration Center in Chicago) during their scheduled hours of operation the day before your scheduled hearing to make sure that your case will take place.
IMPORTANT: Remember to have your case number handy whenever you are requesting information about your case.
Only the Supervising Arbitration Judge can reschedule an arbitration hearing. You must file a proper motion to reschedule or continue your arbitration hearing by spindling (filing) the motion in the Clerk's Office, Room 601 of the Richard J. Daley Center, 50 West Washington Street, Chicago, or in the Clerk's Office at the suburban courthouse where your case is being heard. Once you do that, the Clerk will set your motion for the Supervising Arbitration Judge's motion call. If your motion is granted, the judge will give you a new hearing date. You can also reschedule an arbitration hearing by appearing in court on an emergency motion. Emergency motions to change arbitration hearing dates do not need to be filed with the court but you do need to tell the other side in your case (at least the day before) that you plan to make the emergency motion. You can contact the Arbitration Center at the courthouse in which your case is pending for specific information on the emergency motion call for your location. Only the Supervising Arbitration Judge can decide if your motion meets the emergency criteria.
IMPORTANT: You cannot continue your arbitration hearing after you arrive at the Arbitration Center for your hearing. Arbitrators are not able to hear any motions to reschedule - they are heard only by the Supervising Arbitration Judge for the courthouse where your case is pending.
You are not required to hire an attorney, and you may choose to represent yourself (to act as a pro se litigant) in your lawsuit. However, you need be familiar with all the appropriate legal rules and all the procedures followed which apply to mandatory arbitration proceedings.
IMPORTANT: You are responsible for any legal mistakes you make, which may in turn affect the outcome of your lawsuit.
Court clerks and the Arbitration Center staff are not allowed to give any legal advice. Upon request, clerks in the arbitration courtrooms or any of the Arbitration Centers can provide you with the Circuit Court of Cook County Mandatory Arbitration Handbook which was created for people who choose to represent themselves, and a list of low-cost or no-cost legal referrals. The handbook is also available on line at www.cookcountycourt.org.
Yes, you can observe an arbitration hearing. Arbitration hearings are open to the public and you can observe the proceedings in a respectful manner; it will give you an idea of what to expect at your own proceeding. Let the arbitration center staff know that you would like to observe a hearing, and you will be directed to one of the hearing rooms.
IMPORTANT: Please be on time. Check-in begins 30 minutes prior to the start of arbitration hearings. You will not be allowed to enter the hearing rooms after proceedings begin as it is disruptive to the hearing process. To make sure you know what times you can see cases, you should contact the Arbitration center to find out the times of arbitration hearings.
Upon your arrival for arbitration, you will be required to check-in with the staff at the front desk. Please have your name and case number ready. Check-in begins 30 minutes prior to the time set for your arbitration hearing. After you have checked-in, the staff will direct you to your designated hearing room. Please remember it is your responsibility to make sure you arrive in your assigned room on time and ready to begin.
IMPORTANT: For First Municipal District (Chicago) cases, the downtown Arbitration Center has eleven hearing rooms that allow many hearings to be conducted at the same time. Check-in is very important as the arbitration staff needs to be aware about your presence.
You need to call the Arbitration Center where your hearing is pending so that the arbitration staff is aware that you are on the way. The hearing is expected to start in a timely manner but the administrator may wait for a party to appear before proceeding with the hearing. Please note, however, that you are allowed only a maximum of a fifteen-minute grace period to arrive for your hearing.
IMPORTANT: You will be penalized for your tardiness. This is done by deducting the amount of late time from your presentation.
No. The Cook County Circuit Court does not provide interpreters for arbitration hearings. It is your responsibility to arrange for one prior the hearing.
IMPORTANT: You should consider arranging for a "competent" interpreter for your hearing as the opposing party may object to a friend or family member interpreting for you.
If a party fails to appear, the hearing will go forward ex-parte (without all parties present) and the appropriate award will be entered. The party present will not automatically win. An award will be entered based on the evidence produced.
IMPORTANT: Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 91, the non-appearing party waives the right to reject the award and consents to entry of a judgment on the award.
The arbitrators will enter an award in favor of the defendant.
The hearing will take no longer than two (2) hours and the award must be determined no longer than two-and-a-half hours after the hearing begins.
IMPORTANT: Only the Supervising Arbitration Judge, upon a filed motion, may allow extra time for the hearing.
Each party determines which evidence needs to be presented for his or her claim or defense. It is very important that each pro se litigant (a litigant representing himself or herself) is familiar with and follows the established rules of evidence and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 90 (c) and 90 (d) which specify what documents can be presented at the arbitration hearing. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 90 requires that the copies of all documents be sent to all parties with a written notice to offer those documents at least thirty days prior to the scheduled arbitration. This means that you must send the opposing party a copy of the documents you intended to use at the hearing at least 30 days before your scheduled hearing.
IMPORTANT: As a courtesy to the panel, you should prepare three copies of all the evidence you are planning to present at the hearing so the panel can have the copies to reference during their deliberations.
All parties to an arbitration hearing are required to attend and participate in the arbitration in accordance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 91(b). This rule requires good faith participation and prevents parties and lawyers from abusing the arbitration process and making it meaningless.
IMPORTANT: Sanctions (penalties) against bad-faith participation may prevent a party from rejecting the award.
In the case that a settlement is reached before the arbitration hearing, and neither of the parties presented their case at the hearing, the arbitrators will find in favor of the defendant. The arbitrators will make a notation on the award that parties did not present their case due to a settlement.
IMPORTANT: An order dismissing and settling the case may only be entered by the Supervising Arbitration Judge. Arbitrators cannot enter dismissal orders or settlement agreements.
The panel will decide the award at the conclusion of the arbitration hearing. The award must be signed by all arbitrators and must include all claims, attorneys' fees, costs and interest. A dissenting opinion (a disagreeing vote) may be noted on the award as well, but dissents are without comment.
According to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 93, any party present at the arbitration hearing may file a written notice of rejection of the award and request for a trial within 30 days following their hearing. You may do this in person or through your attorney.
IMPORTANT: You will be charged a $200 rejection fee upon filing a rejection unless you have been deemed indigent by the court.
If you cannot afford to pay the rejection fee, you can fill out an application to be deemed an indigent person by the court under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 298. If you have a case in the First Municipal District (Chicago), this application must be filed in the First Municipal District Presiding Judge’s Office in Room 1301 of the Richard Daley Center. If your case is pending in a suburban courthouse, this application must be filed in the Presiding Judge's Office of the appropriate courthouse where your case is pending. If your application to be deemed an indigent person is accepted and entered by the court, the rejection fee may be waived.
IMPORTANT: There are federal guidelines, which need to be met, in order for you to qualify for the waiver of the fees.
The 30-day period begins to run from the date the award is filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, which is the date the hearing was held. Please note that you will not be allowed to file a rejection after this 30-day period has passed.
IMPORTANT: About 45 days after the arbitration hearing is held, a case in which the arbitration award is rejected will be set on the Judgment of Award Call before the Supervising Arbitration Judge to be assigned for a trial. The Judgment of Award date appears on the bottom of the award.
No. A judge must enter judgment on the award to make it a final order. The judgment is entered at the Judgment of Award Call that is listed on the bottom of the award form.
IMPORTANT: If neither party appears on the Judgment of Award Call, the case will be dismissed for want of prosecution.
Yes. The parties are allowed to voluntarily dispose of the matter at any time prior to an entry of judgment. Dismissal orders are entered by the Supervising Arbitration Judge before which your case is pending. These orders are processed on a walk-in basis. A dismissal order may be also entered on the Judgment of Award Call.
IMPORTANT: If a defendant moves to dismiss the matter, he needs to attach an original stipulation to dismiss to the dismissal order (an agreement to terminate the case signed by the parties).
No. Arbitrators are prohibited from being called as a witness at a trial of the case they arbitrated in accordance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 93 (b).
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