In judicial arbitration, if no one requests a trial de novo in a timely manner, the arbitration award will become a judgment of the Superior Court.
In contractual arbitration, after the arbitrator renders an award, the winning party can petition the Superior Court to confirm the award. CCP 1285. The Superior Court will almost always confirm the award, which makes it into a binding judgment, just like an ordinary court judgment. The grounds for contesting confirmation of an arbitration award are very limited.