AAA®-ICDR® Publishes Guidelines for Utilizing Tribunal Secretaries in International Arbitration

International Centre for Dispute Resolution® Remains Dedicated to Providing Thought Leadership that Increases Transparency & Improves Arbitration Processes

NEW YORK, Jan. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The American Arbitration Association® (AAA®), the global leader in arbitration and mediation services, announces that its international division, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution® (ICDR®), has released a set of comprehensive guidelines for the use and appointment of tribunal secretaries in arbitration.

Tribunal secretaries, many of whom have a professional background in law, can assist arbitrators and parties in complex proceedings where the use of a tribunal secretary would improve the arbitration process and lower costs.   

“We have collaborated with many experts, internally and externally, to create guidelines which reflect best practices and address the main concerns of parties regarding the use of a tribunal secretary,” said Eric P. Tuchmann, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of the AAA-ICDR. “These guidelines clarify the role and responsibility of tribunal secretaries—including confirmation that they do not have any decision-making authority—and contribute to our efforts to strengthen transparency, economy, and efficiency within the international arbitration process.”

The ICDR Arbitral Tribunal Secretary Guidelines, effective December 1, 2022, underscore that:

Arbitrators retain all decision-making authority and may not delegate it to tribunal secretaries. Tribunal secretaries work under the supervision of arbitral tribunals, which may also dismiss them, and must coordinate with the administrator throughout the proceedings.

The tribunal secretary is bound by the same standards of ethical conduct which bind the arbitral tribunal under applicable rules, including disclosure, communication, and confidentiality obligations.

The tribunal secretary may be proposed for appointment on a particular case on the written request of the arbitral tribunal, following consultation with the parties involved. All parties must agree to the appointment of the tribunal secretary, and any objections or questions made by any party regarding a secretary’s disclosure, will be brought to the administrator anonymously by the case manager.

Prior to the tribunal secretary’s appointment, and as early in the process as possible, the arbitral tribunal must provide the administrator with the proposed secretary’s role, curriculum vitae, and rate of compensation. Parties may review and comment on any aspect of the proposed secretary’s role, rate, and suitability for the case to the administrator, who may then consult with the tribunal.

The ICDR Arbitral Tribunal Secretary Guidelines were prepared by the ICDR in consultation with arbitrators, counsel, and case administrators from multiple jurisdictions, as well as professionals who have served as tribunal secretaries.

“With input and feedback from a variety of international arbitration professionals, we have crafted guidance that spells out exactly how tribunal secretaries can contribute to an arbitration proceeding,” said Steve K. Andersen, Esq., Vice President of the International Centre for Dispute Resolution. “We are proud to be able to optimize international dispute resolution through robust thought leadership and industry cooperation, and we look forward to hearing from parties about the impact of these latest rules on their case proceedings.”   

Unless parties agree otherwise in writing, these rules apply in all ICDR-administered cases. Tribunals, with agreement of the parties involved, may also adopt these guidelines in cases not facilitated by the ICDR. Multiple ICDR committees from various jurisdictions were involved in interviews and research for the rules, and in drafting them. The organization will continue to review and update the guidelines to ensure they remain aligned with ICDR goals.

About the American Arbitration Association

The not-for-profit American Arbitration Association® (AAA) is the leading provider of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services for parties in commercial disputes, having administered more than seven million ADR cases since its founding in 1926.  With 29 offices in the United States, in addition to Singapore, the AAA provides organizations of all sizes in virtually every industry with ADR services and products. For more information, visit www.adr.org.

About the International Centre for Dispute Resolution

The International Centre for Dispute Resolution® (ICDR®) is the international division of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and the largest international provider of dispute resolution services. Established in 1996, the ICDR serves parties from over 100 countries with multilingual staff experienced in international dispute resolution proceedings, and a roster of over 725 arbitrators and mediators. For more information, visit www.icdr.org.

Media Contacts:

Michael C. Clark

Laura Simpson

American Arbitration Association

 JConnelly

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