2004 Code of Ethics for Commercial Arbitrators Explained - Chapter 17 - AAA Handbook on Commercial Arbitration, Third Edition
Bruce E. Meyerson
John M. Townsend
Bruce Meyerson, a Mediator and Arbitrator in Phoenix, Arizona, is a former Judge of the Arizona Court of Appeals and a past chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution. He participated as a member of the ABA delegation on the 2004 revision of the 1977 AAA-ABA Code of Ethics. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Arizona State University College of Law where he teaches ADR courses, including the course on Arbitration. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. John M. Townsend is a Washington, D.C., Partner of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, where he chairs the Arbitration and ADR Group. He served as a member of the AAA delegation during the 2004 revision of the 1997 ABA-AAA Code of Ethics and was the Chairman of the AAA’s Board of Directors from 2007 to 2010.
2004 CODE OF ETHICS FOR COMMERCIAL ARBITRATORS EXPLAINED
Bruce Meyerson and John M. Townsend
More than a quarter century ago, a small group of arbitrators and practitioners, representatives of the American Bar Association and American Arbitration Association, met over a long weekend, under the leadership of Judge Howard Holtzmann, to draft an important statement defining ethical duties for arbitrators in commercial disputes. Their effort became the 1977 AAA-ABA Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes (the 1977 Ethics Code). It has proved to be an invaluable ethical framework for arbitrators and others involved in the dispute resolution field.
Many federal and state courts have cited the 1977 Ethics Code with approval as providing the preeminent definition of standards of conduct in the field. The Seventh Circuit was careful to note, however, that the Code does not have the force of law: “Although we have great respect for the Commercial Arbitration Rules [of the AAA] and the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators, they are not the proper starting point for an inquiry into an award’s validity…. The arbitration rules and code do not have the force of law.”