California courts lack jurisdiction to review arbitrator's prehearing order

 
Leases and contracts are the primary relationship between landlords and tenants. When a tenant causes contamination, the remedies provided for in the lease often are utilized in addition to tort remedies (e.g., nuisance) and statutory remedies (e.g., RCRA citizen's suit) to address the issue. It is not uncommon for leases and contracts to contain an arbitration clause for disputes.
 
In Briggs v. Resolution Remedies (12/9/08), 168 Cal. App. 4th 1395, the Court of Appeals held that the Superior Court (the trial court in California) lacked subject matter jurisdiction to review an arbitrator's prehearing order. Although this is not an environmental case, the general principle applies across the board to any general arbitration agreement. As noted in prior posts, if one is concerned about the general rule that virtually all rulings by an arbitrator are not reviewable by the courts, then the arbitration clause should be drafted with such concerns in mind. There is no reason why the terms of the arbitration agreement cannot include judicial review; it just needs to be explicitly stated. Since arbitrators occasionally make egregious errors, it is foolish to not provide a mechanism to address potential mistakes.