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King County Superior Court

King County’s General Jurisdiction Trial Court

Mandatory Arbitration

Mandatory Arbitration - How does it work?

If a lawsuit is for less than $50,000 in monetary damages only and meets the criteria described below, arbitration provides the opportunity to have a case heard by a court appointed arbitrator in a more economical and less formal setting.  It may also result in a resolution sooner than the assigned trial date.


Enabling legislation passed in 1979 and implemented in King County in October of 1980 introduced a program conceived to provide a simplified and economical procedure for obtaining the prompt and equitable resolution of disputes involving claims subject to arbitration by state law.  Originally required, the program was made discretionary in 1983; but the mandate was reinstated by the legislature in 2002 for all counties with a population of 150,000 or more.  The filing fee of $120, introduced in 2000 to help defray the costs of the program, was raised to $220 at this time.  The jurisdictional limits, $10,000 originally, were raised to $15,000 in 1982, to $25,000 in 1985, and to $35,000 in 1988, where they remained until July of 2005 when they were raised to $50,000 and the population requirement was reduced to 100,000.

Cases Subject

Cases meeting the statutory requirements as defined by RCW 7.06, are subject to and must proceed in arbitration.  Any civil, non-domestic action, other than an appeal from a court of limited jurisdiction, is subject to arbitration under this statute if the action is at issue in Superior court, requests relief for money damages only, and no claim exceeds the jurisdictional limit of $50,000, exclusive of attorney's fees, interest, or costs.  The Mandatory Arbitration Rules (see links below) apply only to cases governed by RCW 7.06 and do not include arbitration by private agreement or under other statutes except by stipulation under MAR 8.1.

At Issue

All parties have been joined; all claims, counterclaims, and cross-claims answered.

Timely Filed

The Statement of Arbitrability must by filed by the deadline shown on the case schedule or by any extended deadline granted by the court, including a show cause order.  Thereafter, a case may be transferred to arbitration only by leave of the assigned judge.

Fee Paid

A filing fee of $220 is required before the case will be transferred to the Arbitration Department.

Arbitration Panel

In accordance with the statute, attorneys who have practiced at the Washington State Bar for five years or more are qualified to serve as members of the arbitration panel.  They must have a minimum of 15% of their practice in any area where a case would be assigned.  If you are interested in serving as an arbitrator, please review the Arbitrator Complaint Process and complete an Arbitrator’s Biography and Oath of Office Form and return to the address below.

Useful Links and Forms (Forms for MAR Use Only!!!)

RCW 7.06 - Mandatory Arbitration of Civil Actions
Local Mandatory Arbitration Rules
State Mandatory Arbitration Rules
Mandatory Arbitration Forms

Mailing Address / Contact Info
Mandatory Arbitration Department
King County Superior Court
516 Third Avenue
Seattle WA 98104
(206) 477-2460 (P) / (206) 205-0545 (F)

Hours of Business
8:30am - 12:00noon
1:00pm - 4:30