The American Arbitration Association (AAA), founded in 1926, is a private, international not-for-profit provider of conflict management services. The AAA embraces the core values of integrity, conflict management, and quality service. As the leader in conflict management, the AAA takes seriously its role as standard-bearer and standard-setter. The AAA's rules, administrative procedures, and due process protocols follow the law.
The AAA's services include: AAA Arbitration, AAA Education Services, AAA Election Services, AAA Independent Fact-Finding, AAA Med-Arb, AAA Mediation, AAA Negotiation and Meeting Facilitation, AAA Partnering, AAA Publications.
The largest ADR provider, the AAA has a network of offices throughout the United States and offices in Singapore, Mexico City and Manama, Bahrain. Each year, the AAA administers approximately 150,000 cases. The AAA has more than 65 cooperative agreements with more than 45 nations and a panel of approximately 7,500 arbitrators and mediators. There are currently more than 550 AAA employees and hundreds of former AAA employees, many of whom have remained in the ADR field. In addition to a 90+ person Board of Directors, the AAA interacts regularly with hundreds of national and regional advisory committees and task forces.
Our Shared Mission
The American Arbitration Association is dedicated to effective, efficient and economical methods of dispute resolution through education, technology, and solutions-oriented service.
Our Shared Vision
The American Arbitration Association will continue to be the global leader in conflict management - built on integrity, committed to innovation, and embracing the highest standards of client service achievable in every action.
Commitment to Diversity
The American Arbitration Association is the global leader in conflict management with core values of integrity and service. Our integrity demands impartial and fair treatment of all people with whom we come in contact, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, sexual orientation, or other characterization. Our conflict management services put into practice our goal for the resolution of disputes between parties with different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds.
Because of the breadth of the Association's work and the global reach of its services, we recognize the importance and contribution of a diverse work force, a diverse Roster of Neutrals, a diverse Board, and commit to respect and to increase diversity in all our endeavors.
American Arbitration Association: A Foundation of Integrity
The AAA makes every effort to ensure the integrity of alternative dispute resolution processes in a number of ways.
Conflicts of Interest Avoidance
- The AAA administers cases. It does not determine the merits of a case: arbitrators decide cases. AAA staff members do not write awards and do not review the reasoning of awards. AAA awards are only reviewed to ensure proper format.
- Arbitrators that serve on the AAA panel are bound by the Code of Ethics for Arbitrators in Commercial Disputes. Mediators are bound by the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators.
- When an arbitrator or mediator is selected from a list of potential neutrals, (s)he is required to disclose the existence of interests or relationships that are likely to affect impartiality or that might reasonably create an appearance that (s)he is biased against one party or favorable to another.
- There is judicial oversight for arbitrator impartiality, as arbitrator bias is one of the grounds for vacating an award.
- Requirements for service as an AAA neutral are readily available and the neutral selection process is articulated in the AAA's rules and procedures, with the exception of statutory requirements or alternative methods agreed upon by parties. Where the AAA appoints an arbitrator, a party can make objections to that arbitrator. An appointed arbitrator has the same disclosure obligations as a listed arbitrator.
- In cases where the AAA provides a list of potential arbitrators to all parties, the parties are given the opportunity to strike unacceptable candidates and rank the remaining candidates.
Commitment to Conflict Management
- As part of its mission, the AAA globally promotes the responsible use of conflict management through conferences, publications, the availability of sample conflict management clauses and ADR guides, its Web site www.adr.org and education and training of ADR users and neutrals.
- The AAA includes ADR clauses in its own contracts with vendors and resolves its disputes using a variety of conflict management processes.
- The AAA resolves employee disputes through The Smart Solution program, the AAA's employment dispute resolution program for non-union employees.
- An arbitration proceeding is a private process. In addition, AAA staff and AAA neutrals have an ethical obligation to keep information confidential. However, the AAA takes no position on whether parties should or should not agree to keep the proceeding and award confidential between themselves. The parties always have a right to disclose details of the proceeding, unless they have a separate confidentiality agreement. Where public agencies are involved in disputes, these public agencies routinely make the award public.
- While individual arbitrations are confidential if the parties so determine, the AAA's rules and procedures are available to the public on its Web site and in hard copy.
- The AAA is committed to diversity in its hiring of staff, its neutrals, and its Board of Directors. AAA directors are a global and diverse group comprised of business executives, partners of international law firms, union executives, conflict management professionals, and academic leaders. The AAA's Board of Directors is listed in the President's Letter and Financial Statements for the previous year following each Annual Meeting.
- The AAA seeks advice from a diverse group of international, national, and regional advisory committees comprised of directors, users, neutrals, and business and legal leaders.
- AAA neutrals are held to the highest standards. They are recommended by business, union, and legal leaders, and regularly evaluated by staff and by parties to a case.
- The AAA provides mandatory training for its commercial, construction, employment, labor and international neutrals to ensure competency, quality case management, and process knowledge of the AAA's rules and due process standards.
- The Association's rules and procedures provide for the criteria for selection of AAA arbitrators and mediators.
- The AAA maintains lists of neutrals with discrete areas of expertise. Mediator profiles are available on the AAA Web site.
- The AAA has independent accountants, who audit its financial records, which are available in its President's Letter and Financial Statements, posted on the AAA's Web site.
- AAA employees are held to the AAA Standards of Ethics and Business Conduct requiring ethical conduct in conflict management, including the handling of financial matters.
- The AAA name and rules are cited in contracts without compensation to the AAA or, in most circumstances, notification to the AAA.
- The AAA only receives compensation for its administrative services when a case is filed with the AAA, the AAA provides a list of neutrals, or the AAA acts as an appointing authority.
- The AAA's assets, both its operating investments and pension funds, are managed externally by independent investment firms through the use of mutual funds. AAA staff members do not select the particular stocks or bonds that comprise the AAA's portfolios.
- Monitoring of the performance of the AAA's portfolios and compliance with and changes to the AAA's investment policy are carried out by the AAA's Investment Committee, which includes AAA directors.
- Aside from information that is required by law to be available to the general public, information about the AAA's investment portfolio is unavailable to AAA arbitrators and mediators.
- No special treatment of any kind is given to neutrals or directors when or if they do file cases or use election services. AAA employees are held to the AAA Standards of Ethics and Business Conduct requiring impartiality in providing AAA administrative services.
- The AAA receives approximately 95% of its cases as a result of either being named as the administrative agency in an ADR clause, named in legislation, or because of a citation in a contract clause to one of the AAA rules, which are available on the Web site. In many instances, the AAA has had no prior contact with the parties and has no knowledge that the AAA's name has been used or the rules referenced.
Information Disclosure and Dissemination
- Each year, the AAA makes public its President's Letter and Financial Statements, which includes highlights of the year's work, AAA services available, an audited financial statement, operational information, and lists of the AAA's directorship and management.
- The AAA maintains a Web site, which is a central repository of information on conflict management services available, rules and procedures, reference materials, articles, and important conflict management updates.
- The AAA's fees for services are clearly articulated in its rules, available on the AAA's Web site, and in hard copy. In addition, publication subscriptions are available on the AAA's Web site and through AAA offices.
- Neutrals' fees, which are set by the neutrals themselves, are clearly presented on resumes that are provided to clients.
- The resume also includes the following (as appropriate): current employment and title, work experience, ADR experience, ADR training, professional licenses, professional associations, publications and speaking engagements, education, languages, and fees charged.
- The AAA has a fee reduction or deferral process based on evidence of financial hardship for parties who cannot afford to pay the AAA's administrative fees.
- In consumer cases where no claims or counterclaims exceed $10,000, expedited documents-only procedures are used, and the arbitrators are required to serve for a set fee of $750. However, parties may request an in-person hearing without additional costs to consumers.
- The Supplemental Procedures for Consumer Related Disputes apply to all business-to-consumer claims. In consumer cases, the consumer is responsible for a filing fee of no more than $200.
- Consumer arbitrations under $10,000 that are "documents only" arbitrations are both less expensive and less time consuming than in-person hearings.
- The AAA uses expedited procedures for consumer cases. These cases are expected to be completed within one hearing day.
Due Process and Fairness Standards
- Due Process Protocols guide the AAA's management of certain cases.
- For consumer cases with claims under $75,000, the AAA reviews the contract clause to determine if it substantially and materially deviates from the Consumer Due Process Protocol. The AAA reserves the right to refuse to administer arbitrations with consumer clauses that violate the Consumer Due Process Protocol.
- Pursuant to the AAA's National Rules for the Resolution of Employment Disputes, employers submit pre-dispute, corporate employment programs naming the AAA to the AAA for review to determine that the programs do not substantially and materially deviate from the Employment Due Process Protocol. The AAA reserves the right to decline its administrative services if the employer does not submit its plan for review or if the program does not comply with the Due Process Protocol.
Client Complaints and Feedback
- Parties, clients, and neutrals may contact their case manager, supervisor, or vice president to address any complaints or provide feedback on service.
- Additionally, the AAA periodically surveys parties on discrete caseloads and attendees of educational programs to gather feedback on AAA service and AAA neutrals.