The author is a partner in the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Arbitration Association. This paper was originally presented at the 12th Joint Colloquium on International Arbitration, held in November 1995 in Paris.
The duties of arbitrators are fairly well-delineated in the various codes of ethics issued by the organizations prominent in the field of alternative dispute resolution. Less well-defined, says the author, are the rights of arbitrators within the parameters of those ethical obligations. James H. Carter examines this nebulous issue, focusing on the interplay between the obligations that shape the arbitrator’s role and the “arbitrator’s inherent right to ask that those who review his or her conduct incorporate in the ethical standards a ‘rule of reasonableness’ permitting the arbitrator to exercise responsible, sound judgment.”
Looking for the rights and duties of arbitrators is something like a treasure hunt. They can be found, to a limited extent, in the thickets and underbrush of the rules of arbitral institutions.1 Turning over the rocks in national statutes and court decisions also leads to some clues.2 For arbitration practitioners in the United States, however, there is a map that provides a starting point for the hunt: the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes (Code of Ethics), prepared in 1977 by a joint committee of the American Arbitration Association and the American Bar Association.3