32. When will a hearing date be assigned? Cases will be assigned to the arbitration calendar by the Supervising Judge when all parties to the action have appeared before the court.
33. Who issues the summons? The Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court will issue an Arbitration Summons form, as well as any necessary aliases (with leave of the Court). If delayed service is anticipated, counsel should request a longer return date for the summons.
34. What happens if one of the parties does not appear on the Return date specified in the summons? Supreme Court Rules 181 and 286 govern appearances. If defendant fails to appear a default judgment may be entered (2-1301[d]). If plaintiff fails to appear, the Motion may be dismissed instanter without prejudice, or the court may continue the matter to a date certain for dismissal for want of prosecution. (735 ILCS 5/2-1302[a] and [b])
35. How long should a hearing last? The majority of cases heard by an arbitration panel will require two hours or less for presentation of evidence. Pursuant to local rule, if a party determines that more than the allotted two hours is needed, both the Supervising Judge and the Arbitration staff should be notified. The Supervising Judge may set the case on a special hearing date at 9:00 a.m. and the Arbitration Administrator will make the appropriate arrangements to accommodate the longer hearing.
36. Will I get any notice of the arbitration hearing date after it is set? No. However, the Arbitration Center will contact the plaintiff, as the master of the case, before the hearing to confirm that the case will go forward and to verify that a panel will be available to hear the case.
37. How will the Arbitration Administrator know that the parties are ready for the hearing? The attorneys for each party, or the party themselves if not represented by counsel, are required report to the Arbitration staff when they enter the Arbitration Center. The Arbitration staff calls the case when all parties are present and ready to proceed or at the designated time.
38. What should the parties do if they believe that the hearing will take more than two hours? If the parties determine that more than two hours are needed for the hearing, they should request same from the Supervising Judge at the time the hearing date is set and state in the order setting the hearing that it will be a four-hour hearing. Hearings will not be allowed to run longer than two hours without leave of the Court. A copy of this order must be provided to the Arbitration staff when it is entered. All cases requiring more than two hours must start at 9:00 a.m.
39. What if I want the hearing date extended? Must I seek the Supervising Judge’s approval? If both parties agree, must they come to court to change the date? The Supervising Judge may continue a hearing date for good cause shown. Motions to continue should be set on the motion call before the Supervising Judge. Notice of such a motion must be given to the Arbitration Administrator. If the motion is granted, the Arbitration Administrator must be notified of the new date and time for the hearing. The arbitrators CANNOT, for any reason, continue a case. Even if both parties agree to the continuance, the Supervising Judge must sign the order granting the continuance and assign a new hearing date.
40. What should I do if I am going to be late on the day of the hearing? Who do I call? The Arbitration Administrator or Assistant Administrator should be notified immediately if a party would be late on the day of hearing. If no notice is given, the hearing will proceed in accordance with the rules.
41. If I am late, will I still get a two-hour hearing? No. If the case starts after the scheduled time due to the fault of one of the parties, that party will be penalized by deducting that amount of time from his/her presentation. If the hearing starts after the scheduled time due to the fault of the Arbitration Center or one of the arbitrators, the parties will not be penalized.
42. What happens if one party does not show up? If a party fails to appear at the hearing, the hearing will proceed ex-parte and the appropriate award will be entered. The Administrator may wait fifteen minutes at his/her discretion for a party to appear before commencing the hearing. 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.
43. Is there a place where the attorney can confer with his/her client before the hearing? Yes. The Arbitration Center has a conference room for litigants’ use when they are not being used for deliberations. Also, any hearing room not in use may be used as a conference room.
44. What happens if one party mis-diaries the hearing date or time or appears at the wrong location and does not appear at the hearing as scheduled by the court? Refer to answer #11. The judgment entered on the ex-parte award may be vacated (Supreme Court Rule 91[a]); however, costs may be assessed against the party who did not appear. These costs may include, but are not limited to court costs, attorney’s fees, witness fees, stenographic fees, and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred by any party or witness.
45. What happens if a party does not comply with a Rule 237 subpoena? Supreme Court Rule 90(g), the provisions of Rule 237, and the sanctions provided in rule 219 are equally applicable to arbitration hearings. The arbitrators are instructed to note a party’s failure to comply with Rule 237 on the award. Rule 90(g) further provides that sanctions for failure to comply with a Rule 237 request may include an order debarring that party from rejecting the award.
46. What happens if one of the parties has failed to file an appearance or pleading? The arbitration hearing will proceed as scheduled. If an appearance is not on file, that party will not receive any of the court-generated notices. If a party fails to file any relevant pleading, such as an answer, the arbitrators may determine that all allegations in the complaint are admitted and proceed on the issue of damages only.
47. What happens if neither of the parties appear on the arbitration hearing date? The arbitrators will enter an award of $0.
48. What happens if one of the parties appears but does not present his/her case? Supreme Court Rule 91(b) provides that all parties to an arbitration hearing must participate in good faith and in a meaningful manner. If the panel unanimously finds that a party has failed to participate in good faith and in a meaningful manner, it may recite this finding on the award along with the factual basis for the finding. Any other party may bring a motion for sanctions before the Supervising Judge. Sanctions against the non-good faith participant may include those as provided in Rule 219(c), an order debarring that party from rejecting the award, and costs and attorney’s fees incurred for the arbitration hearing and in the prosecution of the petition for sanctions.
49. Should I leave my Rule 90 documents with the panel? No. As a courtesy to the panel, you should make three copies of your Rule 90 documents and any other evidence, which you plan to present to the panel. The Arbitration Center is not responsible for documents left with it and therefore litigants are encouraged not to leave any original documents at the Arbitration Center.
50. What happens to my exhibits after the hearing? The Arbitration Administrator stores them on the premises. Exhibits may be destroyed 7 days after entry of the Order of Dismissal, Notice of Rejection of the Award, or entry of a Judgment. The parties must retrieve their exhibits within the 7-day period to avoid their destruction. The Arbitration Center is not responsible for these documents and STRONGLY URGES all litigants to make copies of original documents and leave copies, NOT ORIGINALS, with the panel while they make their deliberations.
51. If, during the arbitration hearing, I disagree with an arbitrator ruling, may I stop the proceedings and go before the Supervising Judge for a ruling on the issue? No. Supreme Court Rule 90(a) provides that the arbitrators shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses; to determine the admissibility of evidence; and to decide the law and facts of the case. Rulings on objections to evidence or on other issues, which arise during the hearing, shall be made by the chairperson of the panel. The remedy of rejection of the award and the right to proceed to trial is the appropriate remedy for a perceived bias or prejudice on the part of any member of the panel or error by the panel, in determining its award.
52. Will a court reporter be present to make a transcript of the hearing? A court reporter is not provided. However, any party may make arrangements for a stenographic record of the hearing at his/her own expense with the agreement of all parties present. If a party has a stenographic record made, a copy must be furnished to any other party requesting the same, upon payment of a proportionate share of the total cost of making the record. Testimony from the arbitration hearing has limited use in any later trial of the matter.