California Legislation on Arbitral Ethics. Arbitration ethics and procedures


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The California Assembly has passed a comprehensive legislative package that will overhaul the arbitration process, and maybe ruin it.

Reinforcing the ethical standards that have been developed by the California Judicial Council (SAA 02-17) for full implementation on July 1, the California Assembly has passed in recent weeks a comprehensive legislative package that will overhaul the arbitration process and maybe ruin it.

First of all, California has been the only state in the country (advocates are fond of saying that it is the first) that has imposed minimum ethical standards for neutrals in private arbitrations. It was done on a fast track, pursuant to legislation, and by a “blue-ribbon panel” of a standing committee called the Judicial Council of California, which was tasked with the job by the Legislature. Since the announcement of the stringent standards, the Judicial Council has, to its credit, promised to take additional comments on the rules through September 2002.

According to an ADRWorld.com article on the topic (5/24/02), the Administrative Office of the Courts has written to ADR providers and public interest groups inviting additional “input.” At the same time, though, California legislators have been busy, following up on the initial legislation with at least six new bills, the last of which passed the California Assembly on May 29, 2002 and was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration by that house.

In brief summary, the bills provide for the following changes in “consumer arbitration” (which is defined to include “financial services” disputes):

Heard enough? The details are even more devilish. Readers can find the actual text of this legislation on the California Assembly’s WebSite, www.assembly.ca.gov/defaulttext.asp. (SAC Ref. No. 02-23-01) MURRAY v. UNITED FOOD & COMMERCIAL WORKERS INTL., No. 01-1602 (4th Cir., 5/10/02). At first, we passed

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Categories: Arbitration
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