Arbitrators Ethics Guidelines

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Arbitrators Ethics Guidelines
Introduction

A. The purpose of these Ethics Guidelines is to provide basic guidance to JAMS Arbitrators regarding ethical issues that may arise during or related to the Arbitration process. Arbitration is an adjudicative dispute resolution procedure in which a neutral decision maker issues an Award. Parties are often represented by counsel who argue the case before a single Arbitrator or a panel of three Arbitrators, who adjudicate, or judge, the matter based on the evidence presented.

B. Arbitration - either entered into voluntarily after a dispute has occurred, or as agreed to in a pre-dispute contract clause - is generally binding. By entering into the Arbitration process, the Parties have agreed to accept an Arbitrator's decision as final. There are instances when an Arbitrator's decision may be modified or vacated, but they are extremely rare. The Parties in an Arbitration trade the right to full review for a speedier, less expensive and private process in which it is certain there will be an appropriately expeditious resolution.

C. Other sets of ethics guidelines for Arbitrators exist, such as those promulgated by the National Academy of Arbitrators and jointly by the American Arbitration Association and the American Bar Association. An Arbitrator may wish to review these for informational purposes.

D. These Guidelines are national in scope and are necessarily general. They are not intended to supplant applicable state or local law or rules. An Arbitrator should be aware of applicable state statutes or court rules, such as laws concerning disclosure that may apply to the Arbitrations being conducted. In the event that these Guidelines are inconsistent with such statutes or rules, an Arbitrator must comply with the applicable law.

E. In addition, most states have promulgated codes of ethics for judges and other public judicial officers. In some instances, these codes apply to certain activities of private judges, such as court-ordered Arbitrations. Arbitrators should comply with codes that are specifically applicable to them or to their activities. Where the codes do not specifically apply, an Arbitrator may choose to comply voluntarily with the requirements of such codes.

F. The ethical obligations of an Arbitrator begin as soon as the Arbitrator becomes aware of potential selection by the Parties and continue even after the decision in the case has been rendered. JAMS strongly encourages Arbitrators to address ethical issues that may arise in their cases as soon as an issue becomes apparent, and where appropriate to seek advice on how to resolve such issues from the National Arbitration Committee.

G. The Guidelines in Articles I through IX apply to neutral Arbitrators regardless of the method by which they may have been selected. Article X is intended to apply to Party-appointed Arbitrators who are non-neutral.

Many Arbitration agreements provide for the appointment of an Arbitrator by each Party and the appointment of the third Arbitrator by the two Party-appointed Arbitrators. Party-appointed Arbitrators should be presumed to be neutral, unless the parties’ agreement, the arbitration rules agreed to by the parties or applicable laws provide otherwise.

  1. Where the Party-appointed Arbitrator is expected to be non-neutral, some of the Guidelines applicable to neutral Arbitrators do not apply or are altered to suit this process. For example, while non-neutral Arbitrators must disclose any matters that might affect their independence, the opposing Party ordinarily may not disqualify such person from service as an Arbitrator.
  2. It is appropriate for the party appointed arbitrators to address the status of their service with the party that appointed them, with each other and with the neutral arbitrator and to determine whether the Parties would prefer that they act in a neutral capacity.
  3. Note regarding international Arbitrations. Tripartite Arbitrations in which the Parties each appoint one Arbitrator are common in international disputes; however, all Arbitrators, by whomever appointed, are expected to be independent of the Parties and to be neutral. They are sometimes expected to communicate ex parte with the Party that appointed them solely for purposes of the selection of the chairman and not otherwise.

H. These Guidelines do not establish new or additional grounds for judicial review of Arbitration Awards.

GUIDELINES

I. AN ARBITRATOR SHOULD UPHOLD THE DIGNITY AND INTEGRITY OF THE OFFICE OF THE ARBITRATION PROCESS.

An Arbitrator has a responsibility to the Parties, to other participants in the proceeding, and to the profession. An Arbitrator should seek to discern and refuse to lend approval or consent to any attempt by a Party of its representative to use Arbitration for a purpose other than the fair and efficient resolution of a dispute.

II. AN ARBITRATOR SHOULD BE COMPETENT TO ARBITRATE THE PARTICULAR MATTER.

An Arbitrator should accept an appointment only if the Arbitrator meets the Parties' stated requirements in the agreement to arbitrate regarding professional qualifications. An Arbitrator should prepare before the Arbitration by reviewing any statements or documents submitted by the Parties. An Arbitrator should refuse to serve or should withdraw from the Arbitration if the Arbitrator becomes physically or mentally unable to meet the reasonable expectations of the Parties.

III. AN ARBITRATOR SHOULD INFORM ALL PARTIES OF THE ROLE OF THE ARBITRATOR AND THE RULES OF THE ARBITRATION PROCESS.

A. An Arbitrator should ensure that all Parties understand the Arbitration process, the Arbitrator's role in that process, and the relationship of the Parties to the Arbitrator.

B. An Arbitrator may encourage the Parties to mediate their dispute but should not suggest that the Arbitrator serve as the mediator. In the event that, prior to or during the Arbitration, all Parties request an Arbitrator to participate in discussions of settlement or to combine the Arbitration with another dispute resolution process, the Arbitrator should explain how the Arbitrator's role and relationship to the Parties may be altered, including the impact such a shift may have on the willingness of the Parties to disclose certain information to the Arbitrator serving in the settlement-related role. Nothing in these Guidelines is intended to prevent an Arbitrator from acting as a neutral in another dispute resolution process in the same case, if requested to do so by all Parties and if an appropriate written waiver is obtained. The Parties should, however, be given the opportunity to select another neutral to conduct any such process.

IV. AN ARBITRATOR SHOULD MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY APPROPRIATE TO THE PROCESS.

A. Unless otherwise agreed by the Parties, or required by applicable rules or law, an Arbitrator should keep confidential all matters relating to the Arbitration proceedings and decisions.

B. An Arbitrator should not discuss a case with persons not involved directly in the Arbitration unless the identity of the Parties and details of the case are sufficiently obscured to eliminate any realistic probability of identification.

C. An Arbitrator may discuss a case with another member of the Arbitration panel hearing that case, whether or not all panel members are present.

D. An Arbitrator should not use confidential information acquired during the Arbitration proceeding to gain personal advantage or advantage of others, or to affect adversely the interest of another. An Arbitrator should not inform anyone of the decision in advance of giving it to all Parties. Where there is more than one Arbitrator, an Arbitrator should not disclose to anyone the deliberations of the Arbitrators.

E. An Arbitrator should not participate in post-Award proceedings, except (1) if requested to make a correction to or clarification of an Award, (2) if required by law or (3) if requested by all Parties to participate in a subsequent dispute resolution procedure in the same case.

V. AN ARBITRATOR SHOULD ENSURE THAT HE OR SHE HAS NO KNOWN CONFLICT OF INTEREST REGARDING THE CASE, AND SHOULD ENDEAVOR TO AVOID ANY APPEARANCE OF A CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

A. An Arbitrator should promptly disclose, or cause to be disclosed all matters required by applicable law and any actual or potential conflict of interest or relationship or other information, of which the Arbitrator is aware, that reasonably could lead a Party to question the Arbitrator's impartiality.

B. An Arbitrator may establish social or professional relationships with lawyers and members of other professions. There should be no attempt to be secretive about such relationships but disclosure is not necessary unless some feature of a particular relationship might reasonably appear to impair impartiality.

C. An Arbitrator should not proceed with the process unless all Parties have acknowledged and waived any actual or potential conflict of interest. If the conflict of interest casts serious doubt on the integrity of the process, an Arbitrator should withdraw, notwithstanding receipt of a full waiver.

D. An Arbitrator's disclosure obligations continue throughout the course of the Arbitration and require the Arbitrator to disclose, at any stage of the Arbitration, any such interest or relationship that may arise, or that is recalled or discovered. Disclosure should be made to all Parties, and the Arbitrator should accept such work only where the Arbitrator believes it can be undertaken without an actual or apparent conflict of interest. Where more than one Arbitrator is appointed, each should inform the others of the interests and relationships that have been disclosed.

E. An Arbitrator should avoid conflicts of interest in recommending the services of other professionals. If an Arbitrator is unable to make a personal recommendation without creating a potential or actual conflict of interest, the Arbitrator should so advise the Parties and refer them to a professional service, provider or association.

F. After an Award or decision is rendered in an Arbitration, an Arbitrator should refrain from any conduct involving a Party, insurer or counsel to a Party to the Arbitration that would cast reasonable doubt on the integrity of the Arbitration process, absent disclosure to and consent by all the Parties to the Arbitration. This does not preclude an Arbitrator from serving as an Arbitrator or in another neutral capacity with a Party, insurer or counsel involved in the prior Arbitration, provided that appropriate disclosures are made about the prior Arbitration to the Parties to the new matter.

G. Other than agreed fee and expense reimbursement, an Arbitrator should not accept a gift or item of value from a Party, insurer or counsel to a pending Arbitration. Unless a period of time has elapsed sufficient to negate any appearance of a conflict of interest, an Arbitrator should not accept a gift or item of value from a Party to a completed Arbitration, except that this provision does not preclude an Arbitrator from engaging in normal, social interaction with a Party, insurer or counsel to an Arbitration once the Arbitration is completed.

H. Where relevant state or local rule or statute is more specific than these Guidelines as to Arbitrator disclosure, it should be followed.

VI. AN ARBITRATOR SHOULD ENDEAVOR TO PROVIDE AN EVENHANDED AND UNBIASED PROCESS AND TO TREAT ALL PARTIES WITH RESPECT AT ALL STAGES OF THE PROCEEDINGS.

A. An Arbitrator should remain impartial throughout the course of the Arbitration. Impartiality means freedom from favoritism either by word or action. The Arbitrator should be aware of and avoid the potential for bias based on the Parties' backgrounds, personal attributes or conduct during the Arbitration, or based on the Arbitrator's pre-existing knowledge of or opinion about the merits of the dispute being arbitrated. An Arbitrator should not permit any social or professional relationship with a Party, insurer or counsel to a Party to an Arbitration to affect his or her decision-making. If an Arbitrator becomes incapable of maintaining impartiality, the Arbitrator should withdraw.

B. An Arbitrator should perform duties diligently and conclude the case as promptly as the circumstances reasonably permit. An Arbitrator should be courteous to the Parties, to their representatives and to the witnesses, and should encourage similar conduct by all participants in the proceedings. An Arbitrator should make all reasonable efforts to prevent the Parties, their representatives, or other participants from engaging in delaying tactics, harassment of Parties or other participants, or other abuse or disruption of the Arbitration process.

C. Unless otherwise provided in an agreement of the Parties, (1) an Arbitrator should not discuss a case with any Party in the absence of every other Party, except that if a Party fails to appear at a hearing after having been given due notice, the Arbitrator may discuss the case with any Party who is present; and (2) whenever an Arbitrator communicates in writing with one Party, the Arbitrator should, at the same time, send a copy of the communication to every other Party. Whenever an Arbitrator receives a written communication concerning the case from one Party that has not already been sent to each Party, the Arbitrator should do so.

D. When there is more than one Arbitrator, the Arbitrators should afford each other full opportunity to participate in all aspects of the Arbitration proceedings.

VII. AN ARBITRATOR SHOULD WITHDRAW UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.

A. An Arbitrator should withdraw from the process if the Arbitration is being used to further criminal conduct, or for any of the reasons set forth above - insufficient knowledge of relevant procedural or substantive issues, a conflict of interest that has not been or cannot be waived, the Arbitrator's inability to maintain impartiality, or the Arbitrator's physical or mental disability. In addition, an Arbitrator should be aware of the potential need to withdraw from the case if procedural or substantive unfairness appears to have irrevocably undermined the integrity of the Arbitration process.

B. Except where an Arbitrator is obligated to withdraw or where all Parties request withdrawal, an Arbitrator should continue to serve in the matter.

VIII. AN ARBITRATOR SHOULD MAKE DECISIONS IN A JUST, INDEPENDENT AND DELIBERATE MANNER.

A. An Arbitrator should, after careful deliberation and exercising independent judgment, promptly or otherwise within the time period agreed to by the Parties or by JAMS Rules, decide all issues submitted for determination and issue an Award. An Arbitrator's Award should not be influenced by fear or criticism or by any interest in potential future case referrals by any of the Parties or counsel, nor should an Arbitrator issue an Award that reflects a compromise position in order to achieve such acceptability. An Arbitrator should not delegate the duty to decide to any other person.

B. If, at any stage of the Arbitration process, all Parties agree upon a settlement of the issues in dispute and request the Arbitrator to embody the agreement in a Consent Award, the Arbitrator should comply with such request unless the Arbitrator believes the terms of the agreement are illegal or undermine the integrity of the Arbitration process. If the Arbitrator is concerned about the possible consequences of the proposed Consent Award, he or she may inform the Parties of that concern and may request additional specific information from the Parties regarding the proposed Consent Award. The Arbitrator may refuse to enter the proposed Consent Award and may withdraw from the case.

IX. AN ARBITRATOR SHOULD UPHOLD THE DIGNITY AND INTEGRITY OF THE ARBITRATION PROCESS IN MATTERS RELATING TO MARKETING AND COMPENSATION.

An Arbitrator should avoid marketing that is misleading or that compromises impartiality. An Arbitrator should ensure that any advertising or other marketing to the public conducted on the Arbitrator's behalf is truthful. An Arbitrator may discuss issues relating to compensation with the Parties but should not engage in such discussions if they create an appearance of coercion or other impropriety and should not engage in ex parte communications regarding compensation.

X. ETHICAL GUIDELINES APPLICABLE TO NON-NEUTRAL ARBITRATORS.

These Guidelines are applicable to non-neutral Arbitrators, except as follows:

Guideline III: A non-neutral Arbitrator should ensure that all Parties and other Arbitrators are aware of his or her non-neutral status.

Guideline V: A non-neutral Arbitrator is obligated to make disclosures of any actual or potential conflicts of interest, although a non-neutral Arbitrator is not obligated to withdraw if requested to do so only by the party who did not appoint him or her.

Guideline VI:

  1. A non-neutral Arbitrator may be predisposed toward the Party who appointed him or her but in all other respects is obligated to act in good faith and with integrity and fairness.
  2. A non-neutral Arbitrator may engage in ex parte communication with the Party that appointed him or her, but should disclose to the Parties and the other Arbitrators the fact that such communications are occurring and should honor any agreement reached with the Parties and the other Arbitrators regarding the timing and nature of such communications.

Guideline IX: The compensation arrangements between a non-neutral Arbitrator and the Party that appointed him or her usually is treated as confidential but may be disclosed in connection with any fee application in the Arbitration proceeding.


For more information, please call your local JAMS office at 1-800-352-5267.