A Mandatory Fee Arbitration award was properly confirmed despite the fact that the arbitrator made a clear mistake in finding the amount of fees the client had already paid, based on the attorney’s mistaken letter which the attorney had sent to the arbitrator and the client’s lawyer before the arbitration hearing. An arbitration award cannot be vacated for factual errors. Nor was it improper for the arbitrator to consider the letter since it was presented to him by a party in the course of the arbitration proceedings though not during the formal arbitration hearing. Also, the arbitration award could not be vacated due to undisclosed bias. The evidence on that issue showed that the arbitrator had spent much of his career examining lawyer’ bills first for an insurance company, then as a consultant either for clients or for parties opposing attorney fee awards. That experience showed expertise, not partiality and so did not have to be disclosed or require the arbitrator to disqualify himself.
California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 1 (Margulies, J.); May 18, 2016 (partial publication May 24, 2016); 2016 WL 2995535