Year started: 1987
Neutrals: Retired judges, or attorneys with at least one year of experience and a law office within the Seventeenth Circuit.
Eligibility: Civil actions solely seeking money damages between $10,000 and $50,000.
Free Mediation Services Available?: No
The 17th Judicial Circuit Court's Mandatory Arbitration Program was first established in Winnebago County in October 1987, making it the oldest program of its type in the state. It is governed by Supreme Court Rules 86 to 95 and Local Rule 2.07. The program was expanded to include Boone County in 1995.
All civil actions filed in these counties solely seeking money damages in excess of $10,000 and less then $50,000 are assigned to a special arbitration calendar at the time of filing with the Circuit Clerk's Office. Cases are then monitored by the Supervising Judge of Arbitration, with a hearing scheduled not less then 180 days from the date of initial filing unless otherwise agreed upon between the parties.
The Arbitration Administrator maintains a hearing calendar, with cases heard four days a month. Cases are heard by a panel of three court-approved arbitrators, who serve on a rotating basis as determined by the Arbitration Administrator. To obtain court approval, an arbitrator must be a retired judge, or an attorney with at least one year of experience and a law office within the 17th Circuit. To be eligible to serve as a panel chairperson, an arbitrator must be a retired judge or have had a trial practice for at least five years. In addition, all arbitrators must attend an arbitration training seminar.
Hearings are scheduled for a two-hour time period, unless the parties request more time at least seven days prior to hearing. Hearings can last a maximum of four hours. Awards are made by the arbitration panel immediately after the hearing. The Arbitration Administrator then sends a copy of the award to the parties, as well as a notice of the Judgment on Award date.
An arbitration award is not a final order until the Supervising Judge has entered a judgment on the award, which cannot be made less then 30 days from the date of hearing. Prior to the expiration of the 30-day time period, any party who was present at the arbitration hearing, except a person barred from rejecting the award by the court, may file with the Clerk a written notice of rejection of the award and may request to proceed to trial. The party rejecting the award is assessed a $200 rejection fee.
In Winnebago County, the average program caseload between fiscal years 2007 and 2011 was 1,382 cases, and the average disposition rate was 70%. In fiscal year 2011, the caseload and disposition rate were slightly higher than average. There were 1,474 cases pending or referred to the program. Of these, 71%, or 1,053 cases, settled or were dismissed. There were 118 arbitration hearings during 2011, with 37 awards accepted and 55 awards rejected. No award was entered in 26 cases; these cases either settled before an award was entered or were still pending at the end of the reporting period. Eleven cases, less than one percent of the program's total caseload, went to trial.
During fiscal year 2011, 231 cases were pending or referred to the program in Boone County. Of these, 175 (76%) were settled or dismissed. This is higher than the average disposition rate over the past five years, which was 73%. Fourteen hearings were held in 2011, with five awards accepted and four awards rejected. No award was entered in five cases; these cases either settled before an award was entered or were still pending at the end of the reporting period. No cases went to trial.
Aug. 17, 2007
Abstract: This section applies to court-annexed arbitration in the 17th Circuit (Winnebago and Boone Counties). The arbitration rules of the Illinois Supreme Court are referenced within. In this circuit, the amount in controversy must exceed $5,000 but not exc...
Summary: These annual reports summarize activity for all Illinois court-annexed mandatory arbitration programs. Programs featured in the report include the: 3rd Circuit*, 11th Circuit, 12th Circuit, 14th Circuit, 16th Circuit, 17th Circuit, 18th Circuit, 19th Circuit, 20th Circuit, 22nd Circuit*, and the Circuit Court of Cook County mandatory arbitration programs.
The report provides statewide statistics per fiscal year for each arbitration program and covers case types, caseload, average award amount, and average number of days that cases began in arbitration through final resolution. The report also features individual circuit profiles.
*Please note that reports on the 3rd Circuit mandatory arbitration program appear in the 2008-2016 annual reports and that reports on the 22nd Circuit mandatory arbitration program appear in the 2007-2016 annual reports. Reports on the remaining circuits can be found in each of the 2001-2017 annual reports.
2001 Annual Report
2002 Annual Report
2003 Annual Report
2004 Annual Report
2005 Annual Report
2006 Annual Report
2007 Annual Report
2008 Annual Report
2009 Annual Report
2010 Annual Report
2011 Annual Report
2012 Annual Report
2013 Annual Report
2014 Annual Report
2015 Annual Report
2016 Annual Report
2017 Annual Report
Publication: Illinois Bar Journal
Summary: This article discusses Illinois' mandatory arbitration program and gives both pros and cons of arbitration. It also discusses the Illinois Supreme Court 'Cruz' ruling, in which it laid down the rules governing attorney fees in mandatory arbitration.
Christine J. HawleyArbitration Administrator
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit
308 W. State St.
Stewart Square, Suite 25
Rockford, IL 61101