|Standards of Conduct for Mediators
MODEL 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)
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 Resolution 1. 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
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
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,
Notes on Construction
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 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.
Although party self-determination for process design is a
fundamental principle of mediation practice, a mediator may
need to balance such party self-determination with a mediator’
s duty to conduct a quality process in accordance with these
A mediator cannot personally ensure that each party has made
free and informed choices to reach particular decisions, but,
where appropriate, a mediator should make the parties aware
of the importance of consulting other professionals to help
them make informed choices.
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
STANDARD II. IMPARTIALITY
A mediator shall decline a mediation if the mediator cannot
conduct it in an impartial manner. Impartiality means freedom
from favoritism, bias or prejudice.
A mediator shall conduct a mediation in an impartial manner and
avoid conduct that gives the appearance of partiality.
A mediator should not act with partiality or prejudice based on
any participant’s personal characteristics, background, values
and beliefs, or performance at a mediation, or any other reason.
A mediator should neither give nor accept a gift, favor, loan or
other item of value that raises a question as to the mediator’s
actual or perceived impartiality.
A mediator may accept or give de minimis gifts or incidental
items or services that are provided to facilitate a mediation or
respect cultural norms so long as such practices do not raise
questions as to a mediator’s actual or perceived impartiality.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 mediator shall mediate only when the mediator has the
necessary competence 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 competence and
qualifications. Training, experience in mediation, skills, cultural
understandings and other qualities are often necessary for
mediator competence. A person who offers to serve as a
mediator creates the expectation that the person is competent
to mediate effectively.
A mediator should attend educational programs and related
activities to maintain and enhance the mediator’s knowledge
and skills related to mediation.
A mediator should have available for the parties’ information
relevant to the mediator’s training, education, experience and
approach to conducting a mediation.
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.
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 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.
If the parties to a mediation agree that the mediator may
disclose information obtained during the mediation, the
mediator may do so.
A mediator should not communicate to any non-participant
information about how the parties acted in the mediation. A
mediator may report, if required, whether parties appeared at
a scheduled mediation and whether or not the parties reached
If a mediator participates in teaching, research or evaluation of
mediation, the mediator should protect the anonymity of the
parties and abide by their reasonable expectations regarding
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.
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.
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
STANDARD VI. QUALITY OF THE PROCESS
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.
A mediator should agree to mediate only when the mediator is
prepared to commit the attention essential to an effective
A mediator should only accept cases when the mediator can
satisfy the reasonable expectation of the parties concerning
the timing of a mediation.
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 all sessions.
A mediator should promote honesty and candor between and
among all participants, and a mediator shall not knowingly
misrepresent any material fact or circumstance in the course of
The role of a mediator differs substantially from other
professional roles. Mixing the role of a mediator and the role of
another profession is problematic and thus, a mediator should
distinguish between the roles. A mediator may provide
information that the mediator is qualified by training or
experience to provide, only if the mediator can do so consistent
with these Standards.
A mediator shall not conduct a dispute resolution procedure
other than mediation but label it mediation in an effort to gain
the protection of rules, statutes, or other governing authorities
pertaining to mediation.
A mediator may recommend, when appropriate, that parties
consider resolving their dispute through arbitration, counseling,
neutral evaluation or other processes.
A mediator shall not undertake an additional dispute resolution
role in the same matter without the consent of the parties.
Before providing such service, a mediator shall inform the
parties of the implications of the change in process and obtain
their consent to the change. A mediator who undertakes such
role assumes different duties and responsibilities that may be
governed by other standards.
If a mediation is being used to further criminal conduct, a
mediator should take appropriate steps including, if necessary,
postponing, withdrawing from or terminating the mediation.
If a party appears to have difficulty comprehending the process,
issues, or settlement options, or difficulty participating in a
mediation, the mediator should explore the circumstances and
potential accommodations, modifications or adjustments that
would make possible the party’s capacity to comprehend,
participate and exercise self-determination.
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.
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 mediator shall be truthful and not misleading when
advertising, soliciting or otherwise communicating the mediator’
s qualifications, experience, services and fees.
A mediator should not include any promises as to outcome in
communications, including business cards, stationery, or
A mediator should only claim to meet the mediator qualifications
of a governmental entity or private organization if that entity or
organization has a recognized procedure for qualifying
mediators and it grants such status to the mediator.
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.
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 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.
If a mediator charges fees, the mediator should develop them in
light of all relevant factors, including the type and complexity of
the matter, the qualifications of the mediator, the time required
and the rates customary for such mediation services.
A mediator’s fee arrangement should be in writing unless the
parties request otherwise.
A mediator shall not charge fees in a manner that impairs a
A mediator should not enter into a fee agreement which is
contingent upon the result of the mediation or amount of the
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 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:
Fostering diversity within the field of mediation.
Striving to make mediation accessible to those who elect to use
it, including providing services at a reduced rate or on a pro
bono basis as appropriate.
Participating in research when given the opportunity, including
obtaining participant feedback when appropriate.
Participating in outreach and education efforts to assist the
public in developing an improved understanding of, and
appreciation for, mediation.
Assisting newer mediators through training, mentoring and
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.
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