Standards of Conduct For Mediators
The Model Standards of Conduct for
Mediators were prepared from 1992 through 1994 by a joint
committee composed of two delegates from the American
Arbitration Association, John D. Feerick, Chair, and David
Botwinik, two from the American Bar Association, James Alfini
and Nancy Rogers, and two from the Society of Professionals in
Dispute Resolution, Susan Dearborn and Lemoine Pierce.
The Model Standards have been approved by
the American Arbitration Association, the Litigation Section
and the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar
Association, and the Society of Professionals in Dispute
Reporters: Bryant Garth and Kimberlee K.
Staff Project Director: Frederick E.
The views set out in this publication
have not been considered by the American Bar Association House
of Delegates and do not constitute the policy of the American
The initiative for these standards came
from three professional groups: The American Arbitration
Association, the American Bar Association, and the Society of
Professionals in Dispute Resolution.
The purpose of this initiative was to
develop a set of standards to serve as a general framework for
the practice of mediation. The effort is a step in the
development of the field and a tool to assist practitioners in
it--a beginning, not an end. The model standards are intended
to apply to all types of mediation. It is recognized, however,
that in some cases the application of these standards may be
affected by laws or contractual agreements.
The model standards of conduct for
mediators are intended to perform three major functions: to
serve as a guide for the conduct of mediators; to inform the
mediating parties; and to promote public confidence in
mediation as a process for resolving disputes. The standards
draw on existing codes of conduct for mediators and take into
account issues and problems that have surfaced in mediation
practice. They are offered in the hope that they will serve an
educational function and provide assistance to individuals,
organizations, and institutions involved in mediation. I.
Self-Determination: A Mediator shall Recognize that Mediation
is Based on the Principle of Self-Determination by the
Self-determination is the fundamental
principle of mediation. It requires that the mediation process
rely upon the ability of the parties to reach a voluntary,
uncoerced agreement. Any party may withdraw from mediation at
The mediator may provide information
about the process, raise issues, and help parties explore
options. The primary role of the mediator is to facilitate a
voluntary resolution of a dispute. Parties shall be given the
opportunity to consider all proposed options.
A mediator cannot personally ensure that
each party has made a fully informed choice to reach a
particular agreement, but is a good practice for the mediator
to make the parties aware of the importance of consulting
other professionals, where appropriate, to help them make
II. Impartiality: A Mediator shall
Conduct the Mediation in an Impartial Manner.
The concept of mediator impartiality is
central to the mediation process. A mediator shall mediate
only those matters in which she or he can remain impartial and
evenhanded. If at any time the mediator is unable to conduct
the process in an impartial manner, the mediator is obligated
to withdraw. Comments:
A mediator shall avoid conduct that gives
the appearance of partiality toward one of the parties. The
quality of the mediation process is enhanced when the parties
have confidence in the impartiality of the mediator.
When mediators are appointed by a court
or institution, the appointing agency shall make reasonable
efforts to ensure that mediators serve impartially.
A mediator should guard against
partiality or prejudice based on the parties' personal
characteristics, background or performance at the mediation.
III. Conflicts of Interest: A Mediator
shall Disclose all Actual and Potential Conflicts of Interest
Reasonably Known to the Mediator.
After Disclosure, the Mediator shall
Decline to Mediate unless all Parties Choose to Retain the
Mediator. The Need to Protect Against Conflicts of Interest
also Governs Conduct that Occurs During and After the
A conflict of interest is a dealing or
relationship that might create an impression of possible bias.
The basic approach to questions of conflict of interest is
consistent with the concept of self-determination. The
mediator has a responsibility to disclose all actual and
potential conflicts that are reasonably known to the mediator
and could reasonably be seen as raising a question about
impartiality. If all parties agree to mediate after being
informed of conflicts, the mediator may proceed with the
mediation. If, however, the conflict of interest casts serious
doubt on the integrity of the process, the mediator shall
decline to proceed.
A mediator must avoid the appearance of
conflict of interest both during and after the mediation.
Without the consent of all parties, a mediator shall not
subsequently establish a professional relationship with one of
the parties in a related matter, or in an unrelated matter
under circumstances which would raise legitimate questions
about the integrity of the mediation process. Comments:
A mediator shall avoid conflicts of
interest in recommending the services of other professionals.
A mediator may make reference to professional referral
services or associations which maintain rosters of qualified
Potential conflicts of interest may arise
between administrators of mediation programs and mediators and
there may be strong pressures on the mediator to settle a
particular case or cases. The mediator's commitment must be to
the parties and the process. Pressure from outside of the
mediation process should never influence the mediator to
coerce parties to settle.
IV. Competence: A Mediator shall Mediate
Only When the Mediator has the Necessary Qualifications to
Satisfy the Reasonable Expectations of the Parties.
Any person may be selected as a mediator,
provided that the parties are satisfied with the mediator's
qualifications. Training and experience in mediation, however,
are often necessary for effective mediation. A person who
offers herself or himself as available to serve as a mediator
gives parties and the public the expectation that she or he
has the competency to mediate effectively. In court-connected
or other forms of mandated mediation, it is essential that
mediators assigned to the parties have the requisite training
and experience. Comments:
Mediators should have information
available for the parties regarding their relevant training,
education and experience.
The requirements for appearing on the
list of mediators must be made public and available to
When mediators are appointed by a court
or institution, the appointing agency shall make reasonable
efforts to ensure that each mediator is qualified for the
V. Confidentiality: A Mediator shall
Maintain the Reasonable Expectations of the Parties with
Regard to Confidentiality.
The reasonable expectations of the
parties with regard to confidentiality shall be met by the
mediator. The parties' expectations of confidentiality depend
on the circumstances of the mediation and any agreements they
may make. The mediator shall not disclose any matter that a
party expects to be confidential unless given permission by
all parties or unless required by law or other public policy.
The parties may make their own rules with
respect to confidentiality, or other accepted practice of an
individual mediator or institution may dictate a particular
set of expectations. Since the parties' expectations regarding
confidentiality are important, the mediator should discuss
these expectations with the parties.
If the mediator holds private sessions
with a party, the nature of these sessions with regard to
confidentiality should be discussed prior to undertaking such
In order to protect the integrity of the
mediation, a mediator should avoid communicating information
about how the parties acted in the mediation process, the
merits of the case, or settlement offers. The mediator may
report, if required, whether parties appeared at a scheduled
Where the parties have agreed that all or
a portion of the information disclosed during a mediation is
confidential, the parties' agreement should be respected by
Confidentiality should not be construed
to limit or prohibit the effective monitoring, research, or
evaluation of mediation programs by responsible persons. Under
appropriate circumstances, researchers may be permitted to
obtain access to the statistical data and, with the permission
of the parties, to individual case files, observations of live
mediations, and interviews with participants.
VI. Quality of the Process: A Mediator
shall Conduct the Mediation Fairly, Diligently, and in a
Manner Consistent with the Principle of Self-Determination by
A mediator shall work to ensure a quality
process and to encourage mutual respect among the parties. A
quality process requires a commitment by the mediator to
diligence and procedural fairness. There should be adequate
opportunity for each party in the mediation to participate in
the discussions. The parties decide when they will reach an
agreement or terminate a mediation. Comments:
A mediator may agree to mediate only when
he or she is prepared to commit the attention essential to an
Mediators should only accept cases when
they can satisfy the reasonable expectations of the parties
concerning the timing of the process. A mediator should not
allow a mediation to be unduly delayed by the parties or their
The presence or absence of persons at a
mediation depends on the agreement of the parties and the
mediator. The parties and mediator may agree that others may
be excluded from particular sessions or from the entire
The primary purpose of a mediator is to
facilitate the parties' voluntary agreement. This role differs
substantially from other professional-client relationships.
Mixing the role of a mediator and the role of a professional
advising a client is problematic, and mediators must strive to
distinguish between the roles. A mediator should, therefore,
refrain from providing professional advice. Where appropriate,
a mediator should recommend that parties seek outside
professional advice, or consider resolving their dispute
through arbitration, counseling, neutral evaluation, or other
processes. A mediator who undertakes, at the request of the
parties, an additional dispute resolution role in the same
matter assumes increased responsibilities and obligations that
may be governed by the standards of other processes.
A mediator shall withdraw from a
mediation when incapable of serving or when unable to remain
A mediator shall withdraw from a
mediation or postpone a session if the mediation is being used
to further illegal conduct, or if a party is unable to
participate due to drug, alcohol, or other physical or mental
Mediators should not permit their
behavior in the mediation process to be guided by a desire for
a high settlement rate.
VII. Advertising and Solicitation: A
Mediator shall be Truthful in Advertising and Solicitation for
Advertising or any other communication
with the public concerning services offered or regarding the
education, training, and expertise of the mediator shall be
truthful. Mediators shall refrain from promises and guarantees
of results. Comments:
It is imperative that communication with
the public educate and instill confidence in the process.
In an advertisement or other
communication to the public, a mediator may make reference to
meeting state, national, or private organization
qualifications only if the entity referred to has a procedure
for qualifying mediators and the mediator has been duly
granted the requisite status.
VIII. Fees: A Mediator shall fully
Disclose and Explain the Basis of Compensation, Fees, and
Charges to the Parties.
The parties should be provided sufficient
information about fees at the outset of a mediation to
determine if they wish to retain the services of a mediator.
If a mediator charges fees, the fees shall be reasonable,
considering among other things, the mediation service, the
type and complexity of the matter, the expertise of the
mediator, the time required, and the rates customary in the
community. The better practice in reaching an understanding
about fees is to set down the arrangements in a written
A mediator who withdraws from a mediation
should return any unearned fee to the parties.
A mediator should not enter into a fee
agreement which is contingent upon the result of the mediation
or amount of the settlement.
Co-mediators who share a fee should hold
to standards of reasonableness in determining the allocation
A mediator should not accept a fee for
referral of a matter to another mediator or to any other
IX. Obligations to the Mediation Process:
Mediators have a Duty to Improve the Practice of Mediation.
Mediators are regarded as knowledgeable
in the process of mediation. They have an obligation to use
their knowledge to help educate the public about mediation; to
make mediation accessible to those who would like to use it;
to correct abuses; and to improve their professional skills
Copies of the Model Standards of Conduct
for Mediators are available from the offices of the
participating organizations. The addresses are listed below.
Section on Dispute
740-15th Street NorthWest
Society of Professionals in Dispute
815-15th Street NorthWest