California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1293.2
Code of Civil Procedure section 1293.2 provides, "The court shall award costs upon any judicial proceeding under this title Title 9 as provided in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 1021) of Title 14 of Part 2 of this code."
A petition to compel arbitration under Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.2 results in a proceeding under Title 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
In Green v. Mt. Diablo Hospital Dist. (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 63, the court said:
"This provision, however, only encompasses those actions which have reached a final determination." The language of Code of Civil Procedure section 1293.2 does not by its terms provide that it "only encompasses those actions which have reached a final determination." (Id. at page 77.)
In Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Co. v. Woodman Investment Group (2005) 129 Cal.App.4th 508, 516, the court recently held that a proceeding resulting in the vacation of an arbitral award was a "discrete 'legal proceeding' for purposes of determining a party's right to an award of attorney fees."
In that case, the parties provided that the prevailing party in, inter alia, any "proceeding" would be entitled to attorney fees. In that case, there was no resolution of the dispute - either by arbitration or by litigation, and thus the action had not reached "a final determination." It is difficult to make a distinction between prearbitration and postarbitration proceedings for purposes of the award of attorney fees.
One distinction might be that an order compelling arbitration is not a final award because such an order is not appealable, while an order confirming or vacating an award is appealable. (Code Civ. Proc., 1294.) Thus a postarbitration award must be viewed as a "final determination" of the proceeding - even if not of the action - while an order compelling arbitration is not, in that sense, such a "final determination" of the proceeding.