Find Mediators Near You:

Model Standards of Practice for Mediators

These standards of mediation practice were jointly defined by the American Bar Association (ABA), Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) and the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and are generally applicable to the mediation of legal disputes. Mediators in’s Qualifications Review Program must subscribe to these standards.

The purpose of this initiative was to develop a set of
standards to serve as a general framework for the practice of
mediation. The effort is a step in the development of the field and
a tool to assist practitioners in it–a beginning, not an end.
The model standards are intended to apply to all types of
mediation. It is recognized, however, that in some cases the application
of these standards may be affected by laws or contractual


The model standards of conduct for mediators are intended to
perform three major functions: to serve as a guide for the
conduct of mediators; to inform the mediating parties; and to promote
public confidence in mediation as a process for resolving
disputes. The standards draw on existing codes of conduct for
mediators and take into account issues and problems that have
surfaced in mediation practice. They are offered in the hope that
they will serve an educational function and provide assistance to
individuals, organizations, and institutions involved in

I. Self-Determination: A Mediator Shall Recognize that
Mediation is Based on the Principle of Self-Determination by the

Self-determination is the fundamental principle of mediation.
It requires that the mediation process rely upon the ability of
the parties to reach a voluntary, uncoerced agreement. Any party
may withdraw from mediation at any time.


  • The mediator may provide information about the process,
    raise issues, and help parties explore options. The
    primary role of the mediator is to facilitate a voluntary
    resolution of a dispute. Parties shall be given the
    opportunity to consider all proposed options.
  • A mediator cannot personally ensure that each party has
    made a fully informed choice to reach a particular
    agreement, but is a good practice for the mediator to
    make the parties aware of the importance of consulting
    other professionals, where appropriate, to help them make
    informed decisions.

II. Impartiality: A Mediator Shall Conduct the Mediation in
an Impartial Manner.

The concept of mediator impartiality is central to the
mediation process. A mediator shall mediate only those matters in
which she or he can remain impartial and evenhanded. If at any time
the mediator is unable to conduct the process in an impartial
manner, the mediator is obligated to withdraw.


  • A mediator shall avoid conduct that gives the appearance
    of partiality toward one of the parties. The quality of
    the mediation process is enhanced when the parties have confidence
    in the impartiality of the mediator.
  • When mediators are appointed by a court or institution,
    the appointing agency shall make reasonable efforts to
    ensure that mediators serve impartially.
  • A mediator should guard against partiality or prejudice
    based on the parties’ personal characteristics,
    background or performance at the mediation.

III. Conflicts of Interest: A Mediator Shall Disclose all
Actual and Potential Conflicts of Interest Reasonably Known to
the Mediator. After Disclosure, the Mediator shall Decline to
Mediate unless all Parties Choose to Retain the Mediator. The
Need to Protect Against Conflicts of Interest also Governs
Conduct that Occurs During and After the Mediation.

A conflict of interest is a dealing or relationship that might
create an impression of possible bias. The basic approach to
questions of conflict of interest is consistent with the concept
of self-determination. The mediator has a responsibility to
disclose all actual and potential conflicts that are reasonably
known to the mediator and could reasonably be seen as raising a question
about impartiality. If all parties agree to mediate after being
informed of conflicts, the mediator may proceed with the
mediation. If, however, the conflict of interest casts serious doubt
on the integrity of the process, the mediator shall decline to

A mediator must avoid the appearance of conflict of interest
both during and after the mediation. Without the consent of all
parties, a mediator shall not subsequently establish a professional
relationship with one of the parties in a related matter, or in
an unrelated matter under circumstances which would raise
legitimate questions about the integrity of the mediation


  • A mediator shall avoid conflicts of interest in
    recommending the services of other professionals. A
    mediator may make reference to professional referral
    services or associations which maintain rosters of
    qualified professionals.
  • Potential conflicts of interest may arise between
    administrators of mediation programs and mediators and
    there may be strong pressures on the mediator to settle a
    particular case or cases. The mediator’s commitment must
    be to the parties and the process. Pressure from outside
    of the mediation process should never influence the
    mediator to coerce parties to settle.

IV. Competence: A Mediator Shall Mediate Only When the
Mediator has the Necessary Qualifications 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 qualifications.
Training and experience in mediation, however, are often
necessary for effective mediation. A person who offers herself or
himself as available to serve as a mediator gives parties and the
public the expectation that she or he has the competency to mediate
effectively. In court-connected or other forms of mandated
mediation, it is essential that mediators assigned to the parties
have the requisite training and experience.


  • Mediators should have information available for the
    parties regarding their relevant training, education and
  • The requirements for appearing on the list of mediators
    must be made public and available to interested persons.
  • When mediators are appointed by a court or institution,
    the appointing agency shall make reasonable efforts to
    ensure that each mediator is qualified for the particular

V. Confidentiality: A Mediator Shall Maintain the Reasonable
Expectations of the Parties with Regard to Confidentiality.

The reasonable expectations of the parties with regard to
confidentiality shall be met by the mediator. The parties’
expectations of confidentiality depend on the circumstances of
the mediation and any agreements they may make. The mediator
shall not disclose any matter that a party expects to be
confidential unless given permission by all parties or unless
required by law or other public policy.


  • The parties may make their own rules with respect to
    confidentiality, or other accepted practice of an
    individual mediator or institution may dictate a
    particular set of expectations. Since the parties’
    expectations regarding confidentiality are important, the mediator
    should discuss these expectations with the parties.
  • If the mediator holds private sessions with a party, the
    nature of these sessions with regard to confidentiality
    should be discussed prior to undertaking such sessions.
  • In order to protect the integrity of the mediation, a
    mediator should avoid communicating information about how
    the parties acted in the mediation process, the merits of
    the case, or settlement offers. The mediator may report,
    if required, whether parties appeared at a scheduled
  • Where the parties have agreed that all or a portion of
    the information disclosed during a mediation is
    confidential, the parties’ agreement should be respected
    by the mediator.
  • Confidentiality should not be construed to limit or
    prohibit the effective monitoring, research, or
    evaluation of mediation programs by responsible persons.
    Under appropriate circumstances, researchers may be
    permitted to obtain access to the statistical data and, with
    the permission of the parties, to individual case files,
    observations of live mediations, and interviews with

VI. Quality of the Process: A Mediator Shall Conduct the
Mediation Fairly, Diligently, and in a Manner Consistent with the
Principle of Self-Determination by the Parties.

A mediator shall work to ensure a quality process and to
encourage mutual respect among the parties. A quality process
requires a commitment by the mediator to diligence and procedural fairness.
There should be adequate opportunity for each party in the
mediation to participate in the discussions. The parties decide
when and under what conditions they will reach an agreement or
terminate a mediation.


  • A mediator may agree to mediate only when he or she is
    prepared to commit the attention essential to an
    effective mediation.
  • Mediators should only accept cases when they can satisfy
    the reasonable expectations of the parties concerning the
    timing of the process. A mediator should not allow a
    mediation to be unduly delayed by the parties or their
  • 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 the entire
    mediation process.
  • The primary purpose of a mediator is to facilitate the
    parties’ voluntary agreement. This role differs
    substantially from other professional-client
    relationships. Mixing the role of a mediator and the role
    of a professional advising a client is problematic, and
    mediators must strive to distinguish between the roles. A
    mediator should, therefore, refrain from providing
    professional advice. Where appropriate, a mediator should
    recommend that parties seek outside professional advice,
    or consider resolving their dispute through arbitration,
    counseling, neutral evaluation, or other processes. A
    mediator who undertakes, at the request of the parties,
    an additional dispute resolution role in the same matter
    assumes increased responsibilities and obligations that
    may be governed by the standards of other processes.
  • A mediator shall withdraw from a mediation when incapable
    of serving or when unable to remain impartial.
  • A mediator shall withdraw from a mediation or postpone a
    session if the mediation is being used to further illegal
    conduct, or if a party is unable to participate due to
    drug, alcohol, or other physical or mental incapacity.
  • Mediators should not permit their behavior in the
    mediation process to be guided by a desire for a high
    settlement rate.

VII. Advertising and Solicitation: A Mediator Shall be
Truthful in Advertising and Solicitation for Mediation

Advertising or any other communication with the public
concerning services offered or regarding the education, training,
and expertise of the mediator shall be truthful. Mediators shall
refrain from promises and guarantees of results.


  • It is imperative that communication with the public
    educate and instill confidence in the process.
  • In an advertisement or other communication to the public,
    a mediator may make reference to meeting state, national,
    or private organization qualifications only if the entity
    referred to has a procedure for qualifying mediators and
    the mediator has been duly granted the requisite status.

VIII. Fees: A Mediator Shall Fully Disclose and Explain the
Basis of Compensation, Fees, and Charges to the Parties.

The parties should be provided sufficient information about
fees at the outset of a mediation to determine if they wish to
retain the services of a mediator. If a mediator charges fees,
the fees shall be reasonable, considering among other things, the
mediation service, the type and complexity of the matter, the
expertise of the mediator, the time required, and the rates customary
in the community. The better practice in reaching an
understanding about fees is to set down the arrangements in a
written agreement.


  • A mediator who withdraws from a mediation should return
    any unearned fee to the parties.
  • A mediator should not enter into a fee agreement which is
    contingent upon the result of the mediation or amount of
    the settlement.
  • Co-mediators who share a fee should hold to standards of
    reasonableness in determining the allocation of fees.
  • A mediator should not accept a fee for referral of a
    matter to another mediator or to any other person.

IX. Obligations to the Mediation Process: Mediators have a
Duty to Improve the Practice of Mediation.


  • Mediators are regarded as knowledgeable in the process of
    mediation. They have an obligation to use their knowledge
    to help educate the public about mediation; to make mediation
    accessible to those who would like to use it; to correct
    abuses; and to improve their professional skills and

Managing Editor In business since 1996, is the world’s leading mediation and dispute resolution website with over 7 million annual site visitors. serves as a bridge between professionals offering dispute resolution services and individuals and businesses needing those services. was awarded the 2010 American Bar Association Institutional Problem Solver of… MORE >

Featured Members

View all

Read these next


Negotiation Ethics

The California State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct has issued a proposed opinion attempting to draw the line between unethical misrepresentations during negotiations, and permissible "puffing." Using...

By Joe Markowitz

Fault Or No Fault: It’s Not A Mediation Question

The question of fault or the reason for the demise of the relationship is not germane to the mediation process. Mediation is a problem-solving approach; it focuses on designing settlements...

By Dr. Lynne C. Halem

Letter To President Obama

Dear Mr. President: Thank you. As conflict resolution professionals, practitioners and scholars, we have noticed and profoundly appreciate your efforts to change the process and tone of how differences are...

By Kenneth Cloke