RHODE ISLAND MEDIATORS ASSOCIATION
STANDARDS OF CONDUCT
AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION
(ADOPTED SEPTEMBER 8, 2005)
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
(ADOPTED AUGUST 9, 2005)
ASSOCIATION FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION
(ADOPTED AUGUST 22, 2005)
RHODE ISLAND MEDIATORS ASSOCIATION
(ADOPTED June 21, 2009)
The Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators
The Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators was prepared in 1994 by the American Arbitration Association, the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution, and the Association for Conflict Resolution1. A joint committee consisting of representatives from the same successor organizations revised the Model Standards in 2005.2 Both the original 1994 version and the 2005 revision have been approved by each participating organization.3
Mediation is used to resolve a broad range of conflicts within a variety of settings. These Standards are designed to serve as fundamental ethical guidelines for persons mediating in all practice contexts. They serve three primary goals: to guide the conduct of mediators; to inform the mediating parties; and to promote public confidence in mediation as a process for resolving disputes.
Mediation is a process in which an impartial third party facilitates communication and negotiation and promotes voluntary decision making by the parties to the dispute.
Mediation serves various purposes, including providing the opportunity for parties to define and clarify issues, understand different perspectives, identify interests, explore and assess possible solutions, and reach mutually satisfactory agreements, when desired.
These Standards are to be read and construed in their entirety. There is no priority significance attached to the sequence in which the Standards appear.
The use of the term “shall” in a Standard indicates that the mediator must follow the practice described. The use of the term “should” indicates that the practice described in the standard is highly desirable, but not required, and is to be departed from only for very strong reasons and requires careful use of judgment and discretion.
The use of the term “mediator” is understood to be inclusive so that it applies to co-mediator models. These Standards do not include specific temporal parameters when referencing a mediation, and therefore, do not define the exact beginning or ending of a mediation.
Various aspects of a mediation, including some matters covered by these Standards, may also be affected by applicable law, court rules, regulations, other applicable professional rules, mediation rules to which the parties have agreed and other agreements of the parties. These sources may create conflicts with, and may take precedence over, these Standards. However, a mediator should make every effort to comply with the spirit and intent of these Standards in resolving such conflicts. This effort should include honoring all remaining Standards not in conflict with these other sources.
These Standards, unless and until adopted by a court or other regulatory authority do not have the force of law. Nonetheless, the fact that these Standards have been adopted by the respective sponsoring entities, should alert mediators to the fact that the Standards might be viewed as establishing a standard of care for mediators.
STANDARD I. SELF-DETERMINATION
A. A mediator shall conduct a mediation based on the principle of party self-determination. Self-determination is the act of coming to a voluntary, uncoerced decision in which each party makes free and informed choices as to process and outcome. Parties may exercise self-determination at any stage of a mediation, including mediator selection, process design, participation in or withdrawal from the process, and outcomes.
B. A mediator shall not undermine party self-determination by any party for reasons such as higher settlement rates, egos, increased fees, or outside pressures from court personnel, program administrators, provider organizations, the media or others.
STANDARD II. IMPARTIALITY
A. A mediator shall decline a mediation if the mediator cannot conduct it in an impartial manner. Impartiality means freedom from favoritism, bias or prejudice.
B. A mediator shall conduct a mediation in an impartial manner and avoid conduct that gives the appearance of partiality.
C. If at any time a mediator is unable to conduct a mediation in an impartial manner, the mediator shall withdraw.
STANDARD III. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
A. A mediator shall avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest during and after a mediation. A conflict of interest can arise from involvement by a mediator with the subject matter of the dispute or from any relationship between a mediator and any mediation participant, whether past or present, personal or professional, that reasonably raises a question of a mediator’s impartiality.
B. A mediator shall make a reasonable inquiry to determine whether there are any facts that a reasonable individual would consider likely to create a potential or actual conflict of interest for a mediator. A mediator’s actions necessary to accomplish a reasonable inquiry into potential conflicts of interest may vary based on practice context.
C. A mediator shall disclose, as soon as practicable, all actual and potential conflicts of interest that are reasonably known to the mediator and could reasonably be seen as raising a question about the mediator’s impartiality. After disclosure, if all parties agree, the mediator may proceed with the mediation.
D. If a mediator learns any fact after accepting a mediation that raises a question with respect to that mediator’s service creating a potential or actual conflict of interest, the mediator shall disclose it as quickly as practicable. After disclosure, if all parties agree, the mediator may proceed with the mediation.
E. If a mediator’s conflict of interest might reasonably be viewed as undermining the integrity of the mediation, a mediator shall withdraw from or decline to proceed with the mediation regardless of the expressed desire or agreement of the parties to the contrary.
F. Subsequent to a mediation, a mediator shall not establish another relationship with any of the participants in any matter that would raise questions about the integrity of the mediation. When a mediator develops personal or professional relationships with parties, other individuals or organizations following a mediation in which they were involved, the mediator should consider factors such as time elapsed following the mediation, the nature of the relationships established, and services offered when determining whether the relationships might create a perceived or actual conflict of interest.
STANDARD IV. COMPETENCE
A. A mediator shall mediate only when the mediator has the necessary competence to satisfy the reasonable expectations of the parties.
B. If a mediator, during the course of a mediation determines that the mediator cannot conduct the mediation competently, the mediator shall discuss that determination with the parties as soon as is practicable and take appropriate steps to address the situation, including, but not limited to, withdrawing or requesting appropriate assistance.
C. If a mediator’s ability to conduct a mediation is impaired by drugs, alcohol, medication or otherwise, the mediator shall not conduct the mediation.
STANDARD V. CONFIDENTIALITY
A. A mediator shall maintain the confidentiality of all information obtained by the mediator in mediation, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties or required by applicable law.
B. A mediator who meets with any persons in private session during a mediation shall not convey directly or indirectly to any other person, any information that was obtained during that private session without the consent of the disclosing person.
C. A mediator shall promote understanding among the parties of the extent to which the parties will maintain confidentiality of information they obtain in a mediation.
D. Depending on the circumstance of a mediation, the parties may have varying expectations regarding confidentiality that a mediator should address. The parties may make their own rules with respect to confidentiality, or the accepted practice of an individual mediator or institution may dictate a particular set of expectations.
STANDARD VI. QUALITY OF THE PROCESS
A. A mediator shall conduct a mediation in accordance with these Standards and in a manner that promotes diligence, timeliness, safety, presence of the appropriate participants, party participation, procedural fairness, party competency and mutual respect among all participants.
B. If a mediator is made aware of domestic abuse or violence among the parties, the mediator shall take appropriate steps including, if necessary, postponing, withdrawing from or terminating the mediation.
C. If a mediator believes that participant conduct, including that of the mediator, jeopardizes conducting a mediation consistent with these Standards, a mediator shall take appropriate steps including, if necessary, postponing, withdrawing from or terminating the mediation.
STANDARD VII. ADVERTISING AND SOLICITATION
A. A mediator shall be truthful and not misleading when advertising, soliciting or otherwise communicating the mediator’s qualifications, experience, services and fees.
B. A mediator shall not solicit in a manner that gives an appearance of partiality for or against a party or otherwise undermines the integrity of the process.
C. A mediator shall not communicate to others, in promotional materials or through other forms of communication, the names of persons served without their permission.
STANDARD VIII. FEES AND OTHER CHARGES
A. A mediator shall provide each party or each party’s representative true and complete information about mediation fees, expenses and any other actual or potential charges that may be incurred in connection with a mediation.
B. A mediator shall not charge fees in a manner that impairs a mediator’s impartiality.
1. A mediator should not enter into a fee agreement which is contingent upon the result of the mediation or amount of the settlement.
2. While a mediator may accept unequal fee payments from the parties, a mediator should not use fee arrangements that adversely impact the mediator’s ability to conduct a mediation in an impartial manner.
STANDARD IX. ADVANCEMENT OF MEDIATION PRACTICE
A. A mediator should act in a manner that advances the practice of mediation. A mediator promotes this Standard by engaging in some or all of the following:
B. A mediator should demonstrate respect for differing points of view within the field, seek to learn from other mediators and work together with other mediators to improve the profession and better serve people in conflict.
1 The Association for Conflict Resolution is a merged organization of the Academy of Family Mediators, the Conflict Resolution Education Network and the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR). SPIDR was the third participating organization in the development of the 1994 Standards.
2 Reporter’s Notes, which are not part of these Standards and therefore have not been specifically approved by any of the organizations, provide commentary regarding these revisions.
3 The 2005 revisions to the Model Standards were approved by the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates on August 9, 2005, the Board of the Association for Conflict Resolution on August 22, 2005 and the Executive Committee of the American Arbitration Association on September 8, 2005.