Substitute House Bill No. 6569
          Substitute House Bill No. 6569

               PUBLIC ACT NO. 97-24


AN  ACT  CONCERNING  REFERRAL FOR FACT-FINDING AND
ARBITRATION.


    Be it enacted  by  the  Senate  and  House  of
Representatives in General Assembly convened:
    Section  1. Section  52-549n  of  the  general
statutes  is  repealed   and   the   following  is
substituted in lieu thereof:
    In accordance with  the  provisions of section
51-14, the judges  of  the Superior Court may make
such rules as  they  deem  necessary  to provide a
procedure in accordance  with  which the court, in
its discretion, may  refer  to  a  fact-finder for
proceedings authorized pursuant  to  this chapter,
any contract action pending in the Superior Court,
EXCEPT  CLAIMS  UNDER   INSURANCE   CONTRACTS  FOR
UNINSURED AND OR  UNDERINSURED  MOTORIST COVERAGE,
in which only  money damages are claimed and which
is based upon an express or implied promise to pay
a definite sum,  and  in  which  the amount, legal
interest or property  in  [demand]  CONTROVERSY is
less  than  [fifteen]   FIFTY   thousand   dollars
exclusive of interest and costs. Such cases may be
referred  to  a   fact-finder   only   after   the
CERTIFICATE OF CLOSED pleadings [have been closed,
a trial list claim] has been filed, no claim for a
jury  trial  has   been   filed  at  the  time  of
reference,  and the  time  prescribed  in  section
52-215 for filing a jury trial claim within thirty
days of the  return  day  or within ten days after
the issue of fact has been joined has expired.
    Sec.  2.  Section   52-549u   of  the  general
statutes  is  repealed   and   the   following  is
substituted in lieu thereof:
    In accordance with  the  provisions of section
51-14, the judges  of  the Superior Court may make
such rules as  they  deem  necessary  to provide a
procedure in accordance  with  which the court, in
its discretion, may  refer  to  an arbitrator, for
proceedings authorized pursuant  to  this chapter,
any  civil action  in  which  [the  amount,  legal
interest or property  in demand] IN THE DISCRETION
OF THE COURT,  THE  REASONABLE  EXPECTATION  OF  A
JUDGMENT is less  than  [fifteen]  FIFTY  thousand
dollars exclusive of  LEGAL interest and costs and
in which a  claim for a trial by jury and a [claim
for  the  trial   list]   CERTIFICATE   OF  CLOSED
PLEADINGS have been  filed.  AN  AWARD  UNDER THIS
SECTION SHALL NOT  EXCEED  FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS,
EXCLUSIVE OF LEGAL  INTEREST  AND COSTS. ANY PARTY
MAY  PETITION THE  COURT  TO  BECOME  ELIGIBLE  TO
PARTICIPATE IN THE ARBITRATION PROCESS AS PROVIDED
IN THIS SECTION.
    Sec. 3. Subsection  (a)  of section 52-549w of
the general statutes is repealed and the following
is substituted in lieu thereof:
    (a)  Upon  publication  of  a  notice  in  the
Connecticut Law Journal,  any  commissioner of the
Superior Court admitted  to practice in this state
for at least  five years, WHO HAS CIVIL LITIGATION
EXPERIENCE AND who  is  willing and able to act as
an arbitrator, may  submit  his name to the Office
of the Chief  Court  Administrator for approval to
be placed on  a  list of available arbitrators for
one or more  judicial  districts. The criteria for
selection and approval  of  arbitrators  shall  be
promulgated by the  judges  of the Superior Court.
Upon selection and  approval  by  the  Chief Court
Administrator, for such  term  as  he may fix, the
arbitrators shall be  sworn  or  affirmed  to  try
justly  and  equitably   all   matters   at  issue
submitted to them.  The Chief Court Administrator,
in his discretion, may at any time revoke any such
approval.
    Sec.  4.  Section   52-549x   of  the  general
statutes  is  repealed   and   the   following  is
substituted in lieu thereof:
    [In matters submitted  to arbitration a record
shall be made  of the proceedings and the rules of
evidence  in  civil  cases  in  this  state  shall
apply.] Within one  hundred  twenty  days  of  the
completion   of  the   arbitration   hearing   the
arbitrator shall file  his decision with the clerk
of  the  court  together  with  sufficient  copies
thereof for the  parties  or their counsel. In his
decision the arbitrator  shall state the number of
days on which  hearings  concerning that case were
held before such arbitrator.
    Sec. 5. Subsection  (d)  of section 52-549z of
the general statutes is repealed and the following
is substituted in lieu thereof:
    (d) An appeal  by  way of a demand for a trial
de novo must  be filed with the court clerk within
twenty days of  the  filing  of  the  arbitrator's
decision and it shall include a certification that
a copy thereof  has been served on each counsel of
record, to be  accomplished in accordance with the
rules of court.  THE  DECISION  OF  THE ARBITRATOR
SHALL  NOT  BE   ADMISSIBLE   IN   ANY  PROCEEDING
RESULTING AFTER A  CLAIM  FOR  A  TRIAL DE NOVO OR
FROM A SETTING  ASIDE  OF  AN  AWARD IN ACCORDANCE
WITH SECTION 52-549aa,  AS AMENDED BY SECTION 6 OF
THIS ACT.
    Sec.  6.  Section   52-549aa  of  the  general
statutes  is  repealed   and   the   following  is
substituted in lieu thereof:
    [The] IN ADDITION  TO  THE ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO A
TRIAL DE NOVO  AS  PROVIDED UNDER SECTION 52-549z,
AS AMENDED BY  SECTION 5 OF THIS ACT, THE court in
which such award  is  filed may set aside an award
of arbitrators and  order  a  trial de novo in the
superior court upon  proof  that  the  arbitrators
acted arbitrarily or capriciously in the course of
the hearings before  them  or  that  the award was
procured by corruption or other undue means.
    Sec. 7. This  act shall take effect January 1,
1998.

Approved May 6, 1997