Court Has Discretion Whether Or Not to Appoint a Referee, Despite Parties Pre-Dispute Agreement

If parties agree to refer their dispute to a referee rather than go to court, must the judiciary comply with their agreement?  Or does the court have discretion to reject the reference, in effect requiring the parties to litigate despite their agreement to the contrary?

The California Supreme Court has ruled that despite the parties' contract, the court retains discretion under Section 638 of the Code of Civil Procedure.  According to the justices, a trial court can independently review the matter and decide for itself whether a reference to a referee is appropriate.

The case is Tarrant Bell Property LLC v. Superior Court.  A copy is attached for your convenience.

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