The Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators was adopted in 2005 by the American Arbitration Association, American Bar Association and Association for Conflict Resolution. These Standards were designed to serve as the fundamental ethical guidelines for persons mediating in all practice contexts and may be viewed as establishing a standard of care for mediators. Below is a brief overview of the nine Standards of Conduct:
Standard 1. Self-Determination: A party’s self-determination is a fundamental principle of mediation. A party voluntarily enters into mediation and may engage in the selection of the mediator, procedural structure of the mediation, and participation in or withdrawal from the process and outcomes. A mediator retains the duty to conduct a quality process to personally ensure that each party has made a voluntary and informed choice to reach a particular decision. Where appropriate a mediator should advise a party to consult other professionals to help them make informed choices.
Standard 2. Impartiality: A mediator must be impartial and be free of any bias, prejudice or favoritism. If at any time a mediator is unable to conduct an impartial mediation, the mediator must withdraw.
Standard 3. Conflict of Interest: A mediator must avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest during and after mediation. A mediator has an affirmative duty to determine if conflict may exist, such as involvement with the subject matter of the dispute, any relationship with the parties, whether past or present, personal or professional, that reasonably raises a question of the mediator’s impartiality. If a mediator’s conflict of interest might reasonably be considered as undermining the integrity of the mediation, the mediator must withdraw from or decline to proceed with the mediation, regardless of the expressed desire or agreement of the parties to the contrary.
Standard 4. Competence: A mediator must mediate only when the mediator has the necessary competence to satisfy the reasonable expectations of the parties. If during the course of mediation the mediator determines he lacks the competence to conduct the mediation, the mediator must discuss this with the parties and take appropriate steps to address the situation, including withdrawing or obtaining appropriate assistance.
Standard 5. Confidentiality: A mediator must maintain the confidentiality of all information obtained in mediation unless otherwise agreed by the parties or required by applicable law.
Standard 6. Quality of the Process: A mediator shall conduct mediation in a manner that promotes diligence, timeliness, safety, presence of the appropriate participants, party participants, procedural fairness, party competency, and mutual respect among all parties.
Standard 7. Advertising and Solicitation: A mediator shall be truthful and not misleading when advertising, soliciting or otherwise communicating the mediator’s qualifications, experience, services, and fees. A mediator shall not communicate to others, in promotional materials or through other forms of communications, the names of persons served without their permission.
Standard 8. Fees and Other Charges: A mediator must provide each party with information about mediation fees, expenses and any other actual or partial charges that may be incurred in connection with mediation. The mediator’s fees should be in writing.
Standard 9. Advancement of Mediation Practice: A mediator should act in a manner that advances the practice of mediation by fostering diversity, establishing accessibility, furthering education, mentoring, and networking.