Court Authority to Enforce Methods for Choosing An Arbitrator

A court has the authority to compel compliance with a method for selecting an arbitrator. Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.6 provides: "If the arbitration agreement provides a method of appointing an arbitrator, that method shall be followed. If the arbitration agreement does not provide a method for appointing an arbitrator, the parties to the agreement who seek arbitration and against whom arbitration is sought may agree on a method of appointing an arbitrator and that method shall be followed. In the absence of an agreed method, or if the agreed method fails or for any reason cannot be followed, or when an arbitrator appointed fails to act and his or her successor has not been appointed, the court, on petition of a party to the arbitration agreement, shall appoint the arbitrator." Engalla v. Permanente Medical Group, Inc. (1997) 15 Cal. 4th 951, 980 64 Cal. Rptr. 2d 843, 938 P.2d 903 "That section, as explained above, provides a statutory method for resolving breakdowns in the arbitrator selection process, and states in pertinent part that in the absence of an agreed method of appointing an arbitrator, 'or if the agreed method fails or for any reason cannot be followed . . . the court, on petition of a party to the arbitration agreement, shall appoint the arbitrator' "; Burgess v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (1993) 16 Cal. App. 4th 1077, 1081 20 Cal. Rptr. 2d 488 "Arbitration is intended to be more expeditious than litigation. Accordingly, if there is any delay by an arbitrator, the appropriate remedy is not tolling of the five-year period, but rather a petition to the court for an appropriate order expediting the arbitration proceeding"; Lewis v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. (1986) 183 Cal. App. 3d 1097, 1107 228 Cal. Rptr. 345 "If the court concludes the agreement to arbitrate is enforceable and the parties cannot agree on the procedure to appoint an arbitrator, the remedy is to be found in Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.6"; Fields, Cal. Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice (1999) 33.12, p. 33-14.) The parties do not dispute that Code of Civil Procedure section 1281.6 is the relevant statutory authority for judicial enforcement of a method for selecting an arbitrator.