a. Any civil action brought for personal injury, except for actions brought pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1972, c. 70 (C. 39:6A-1 et seq.), shall be submitted, except as hereinafter provided, to arbitration by the assignment judge of the court in which the action is filed, if the court determines that the amount in controversy is $20,000.00 or less, exclusive of costs.
b. Notwithstanding that the amount in controversy is in excess of $20,000.00, the court may refer the matter to arbitration, if all of the parties to the action consent in writing to arbitration and the court determines that the controversy does not involve novel legal or unduly complex factual issues.
c. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any controversy on which an arbitration decision was rendered prior to the filing of the action. The provisions of this section shall apply to any cause of action, subject to this section, filed prior to the operative date of this act, if a pretrial conference has not been concluded thereon.
L. 1987,c.329, s.1.