Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Dispute Resolution



Publication Date



Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, ethical standards, ethical guidelines, ADR neutrals, Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution


ADR is unique in being interdisciplinary and interprofessional. ADR neutrals perform in a distinctive role and not as members of their own profession. The ADR process demands adherence to policies like voluntariness, respect for party autonomy, and confidentiality, which, in turn, make special ethical demands on ADR neutrals. Thus there are compelling reasons to contemplate an interdisciplinary code of conduct that addresses the professional duties and obligations of ADR neutrals. Standards of conduct for ADR has been a much discussed and debated topic over the past decade, both as to source and content. The two principal sources of standards have been the profession and the government. The standards of conduct of individual professional groups are still the primary source of regulation in most states. Codes of professional conduct tailored to mediation and ADR have been issued by various professional organizations. In addition, consortia of professional groups and umbrella organizations that include a number of individual professions have promulgated standards. Such groups, however, lack enforcement power, and have to rely upon the individual professions to undertake enforcement sanctions against one of their members. A long-awaited study of qualifications by the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR) issued in 1989 concluded that no single entity, but rather a variety of professional organizations, should establish qualifications; that the greater the degree of choice the parties have over the ADR process, the less mandatory should be the qualification requirements; and that the qualification criteria should be based on performance, rather than on paper credentials.