§ 8-6-5. Arbitration of civil actions.
The presiding justice of the superior court may promulgate rules and regulations providing for compulsory and/or noncompulsory nonbinding arbitration of such category or categories of civil actions filed in, or appealed to, the superior court as he or she shall determine. The matter shall be heard by a single arbitrator who shall be selected by mutual agreement of the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s). If, after thirty (30) days, the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) are unable to agree upon the selection of an arbitrator, a justice of the superior court shall select the arbitrator upon request in writing from either party. The costs of arbitration shall be borne by the Rhode Island state court system and a reasonable cost of the arbitration, not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500) per case, may be assessed and apportioned to each of the parties by the superior court pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated by the presiding justice of the superior court consistent with § 8-6-6. The assessed costs received from the parties shall be deposited into the general fund. Any party dissatisfied with the decision of the arbitrator may demand a trial by jury if one was timely claimed in the complaint or answer, or a trial by judge if no jury trial was claimed. The decision of the arbitrator shall not be admissible at the trial. The court may require a party who rejects an arbitrator's award and demands a trial to post a three hundred dollar ($300) filing fee and pay a technology surcharge in accordance with § 8-15-11. The filing fee shall be posted with the superior court arbitration office and deposited into an arbitration fund restricted-receipt account established under the control of the state court director of finance. The arbitration funds shall not be subject to the indirect cost recoveries provisions set forth in § 35-4-27. If more than one party rejects the arbitrator's award and demands a trial, the filing fee, first received in the arbitration office, shall designate the party rejecting the award. Should the verdict at trial be more favorable to the party than the arbitrator's award, the filing fee shall be reimbursed to that party. Should the verdict be equal to, or less favorable to, the party than the arbitrator's award, the filing fee posted shall be forfeited as a sanction. If forfeited as a sanction, the fee shall remain available for program expenses from the arbitration fund restricted-receipt account. The presiding justice of the superior court shall be authorized to retain the services of qualified arbitrators and to direct payment for such services and other related expenses from the arbitration fund restricted-receipt account and may appoint an administrator of the arbitration program for a ten-year (10) term and until a successor is appointed and qualified.
(P.L. 1988, ch. 522, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 429, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 365, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 188, § 1; P.L. 1994, ch. 70, art. 35, § 2; P.L. 2008, ch. 119, § 4; P.L. 2009, ch. 68, art. 10, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 293, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 402, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 34, § 2; P.L. 2014, ch. 42, § 2.)