MAR 7.1 Interpretation

In Nevers v. Fireside, Inc., 133 Wn.2d 804, 811-12, 947 P.2d 721 (1997), the Court held that "failure to strictly comply with MAR 7.1(a)'s filing requirement prevents the superior court from conducting a trial de novo." Substantial compliance with the rule is insufficient. Id. at 815. MAR 7.1, Request for Trial De Novo: "(a) Service and Filing. Within 20 days after the arbitration award is filed with the clerk, any aggrieved party not having waived the right to appeal may serve and file with the clerk a written request for a trial de novo in the superior court along with proof that a copy has been served upon all other parties appearing in the case. the 20-day period within which to request a trial de novo may not be extended." Nevers specifically required the aggrieved party to file both a notice for trial de novo and proof of service within 20 days. The Nevers rationale mandates strict compliance based on the plain, unambiguous language of the rule. The Court later held in Roberts v. Johnson, 137 Wn.2d 84, 93, 969 P.2d 446 (1999), that the strict compliance standard applies to MAR 6.2, governing the filing of an arbitrator's decision. The Court based both rulings on the plain language of the rules, but also noted that strict compliance better effectuates the Legislature's intent in enacting the statutes upon which the arbitration rules are based, namely to "alleviate the court congestion and reduce the delay in hearing civil cases." Christie-Lambert Van & Storage Co. v. McLeod, 39 Wn. App. 298, 302, 693 P.2d 161 (1984) (citing 1 SENATE JOURNAL, 46TH LEG., REG. SESS. 1016-17 (1979)). See also: Nevers, 133 Wn.2d at 815; Roberts, 137 Wn.2d at 89; Perkins Coie v. Williams, 84 Wn. App. 733, 737, 929 P.2d 1215 (1997).