Disclosure of the Nature of Legal Practice and Representation is Required by Arbitrator in Fee Dispute Matter

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In Benjamin, Weill and Mazer v. Kors, 2010 DJDAR 15842 (2010) the First Appellate District decided a novel case involving the disclosure requirements under the California Arbitration Act.

Plaintiffs, the Temples, sued Nancy Kors for her activities as a professional adoption facilitator. Kors retained the law firm of Benjamin, Weill & Mazer (BWM) to represent her in the litigation. The Temples voluntarily dismissed their complaint without prejudice, after expensive litigation ensued. Kors moved for attorney fees and her motion was denied. Thereafter, BWM requested that Kors pay the fees which had been billed to her. Kors failed to pay the bills, and BWM sued Kors seeking the balance owed to the firm of $68,986.38.

The trial court granted Kors’ motion to compel fee arbitration and Sean SeLegue was designated chief arbitrator. The arbitration panel concluded that Kors was required to pay BWM $102,287.39 in unpaid fees, costs and interest. BWM then moved to confirm the award in the Superior Court. Kors responded by alleging that SeLegue failed to disclose the nature of his law practice, which could cause a person to doubt his impartiality.

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