California Contractor State License Board Discipline
“CSLB Mediation and Arbitration”
The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) provides several programs for the resolution of disputes between contractors and consumers. The available dispute resolution mechanisms provided by CSLB are mediation, mandatory arbitration and voluntary arbitration.
When a consumer submits a complaint, CSLB Intake staff members analyze the facts to determine whether Mediation is appropriate or the complaint should be immediately marked for investigation. Mediation is non binding and informal. Both the consumer and the contractor may submit evidence to the CSLB Consumer Services Representative. If CSLB Mediation staff cannot resolve the issue, additional options are available.
CSLB’s Mandatory Arbitration program exists for disputes under $12,500. If the consumer elects to participate in the program, the contractor is required to participate. If the consumer elects not to participate in Mandatory Arbitration, the matter is generally closed. However, if the parties previously agreed in writing to waive Arbitration, the contractor cannot be forced to participate in CSLB sponsored Mandatory Arbitration. If Mandatory Arbitration is required and the Arbitrator rules in favor of the consumer, the contractor is obligated to pay the judgment or risks a license suspension or revocation.
CSLB’s Voluntary Arbitration program exists for disputes between $12,500 and $50,000. If both parties agree to participate in CSLB sponsored Voluntary Arbitration, the decision is binding and a contractor is required to pay the judgment or face license suspension or revocation. If one or both parties decline to participate in Voluntary Arbitration, CSLB Investigative staff will investigate the complaint. If the complaint has merit, formal discipline in the form of a filed Accusation against the contractor by the Attorney General’s Office in the California Office of Administrative Hearings can result. If the complaint has no merit, the complaint will be closed.
Complaints that are unfounded by CSLB Investigative staff are closed against the contractor. In some instances, the consumer will try to make a claim to the Contractor’s Bond or sue the contractor in civil court. If the consumer successfully obtains a judgment against a contractor in civil court, the contractor must pay the judgment or discharge the judgment in bankruptcy to avoid a license suspension or revocation.
If CSLB Investigators believe a complaint has merit, a Citation or Accusation likely will be filed against the contractor’s license. A Citation can be appealed to an Administrative Law Judge at the California Office of Administrative Hearings. A Citation can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and remains viewable to the public for five years. An Accusation carries penalties ranging from license probation and suspension to license revocation. Discipline resulting from an Accusation remains viewable by the public forever.
If you possess a California contractor license and are facing an investigation or Accusation, contact the Law Offices of Seth Weinstein at (310) 707-7131.
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