AAA Announces Revisions To Ethics CodeFor Arbitration In Commercial Disputes

Thursday, April 1, 2004 - 01:00

The American Arbitration Association (AAA) has announced the adoption of a Revised Code of Ethics for Arbitration in Commercial Disputes, effective March 1. The provisions of the Revised Code are subject to any contrary principles that may be found in governing law or applicable arbitration rules and also deter an agreement of parties to an arbitration to proceed under different rules or standards. Changes to the 2004 Revised Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes include:• Presumption of Neutrality. A presumption of neutrality is applied to all arbitrators, including party-appointed arbitrators. This reverses the presumption of non-neutrality for party-appointed arbitrators that was contained in the 1977 Code. The concept of neutrality encompasses both independence and impartiality. For cases where the parties agree to the use of non-neutral arbitrators, the Revised Code delineates ethical obligations non-neutral arbitrators are expected to maintain.• Duties of Party-Appointed Arbitrators. Party-appointed arbitrators are obligated under the Revised Code to ascertain and disclose whether they will be acting as neutral or non-neutral arbitrators as early in the arbitration as possible. In the event of doubt or uncertainty, party-appointed arbitrators will serve in a neutral capacity until such doubt or uncertainty is resolved.• Duty to Disclose Interests and Relationships. The Revised Code subjects all arbitrators, whether serving as neutral arbitrators or non-neutral arbitrators to the same obligation to disclose interests or relationships likely to affect impartiality or which might create an appearance of partiality.• Communications with the Parties and the Other Arbitrators. Limits on permissible communications between arbitrators and parties are clarified.• Arbitrator Suitability. In addition to imposing impartiality and independence standards that form the basis of the presumption of neutrality, the arbitrator is obligated to determine his or her competence and availability to serve in the case. Additional details of the Revised Code are available at www.adr.org.