Ethics in International Arbitration: Traps for the Unwary
12 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2012 Last revised: 14 Apr 2013
Date Written: July 20, 2012
Attorneys in the U.S. who are new to international arbitration may be unaware of how ethical rules in foreign jurisdictions affect their conduct. It may not be easy to ascertain what ethical rules govern in a proceeding, or what happens if there are conflicting ethical rules. Because of the many areas where different legal and cultural backgrounds may cause clashes in ethical rules, attorneys need to take steps to ensure that they are familiar with their obligations in any new setting. If they have doubts about those obligations, they should at the very least seek clarification from the arbitral tribunal.
Because ethical rules are so different, if attorneys from different jurisdictions were to each act only in accordance with their local rules, those rules might provide an advantage or a disadvantage to one side. In addition, attorneys who act only in accord with the rules of the jurisdiction where they were licensed risk violating the rules of the place of arbitration. Increasingly, scholars and practitioners are urging that a uniform international code of ethics be developed to govern conduct for attorneys engaged in international arbitration. Efforts have begun to create such codes, and to suggest how the codes could be enforced. An internationally accepted code could provide more confidence to participating attorneys that they are conducting themselves ethically in accordance with governing rules, and would also contribute to the transparency and the fairness of the process.
Keywords: International arbitration, legal ethics, ethical rules, arbitration
JEL Classification: K33, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation