Setting the Standard

The College of Commercial Arbitrators—Setting the Standard

From its founding in 2001, one of the principal goals of the College of Commercial Arbitrators (the CCA) has been to establish and promote “best practices” in commercial arbitration. One of the CCA’s primary vehicles for achieving that objective is The College of Commercial Arbitrators Guide to Best Practices in Commercial Arbitration, the fourth edition of which was released in October 2017.

The CCA Best Practices Guide, the brainchild of the late Honorable Winslow Christian (a former California appeals court justice and a founding member of the CCA), is the product of an intensive collaborative effort by scores of CCA Fellows. The production of the first edition of the Guide involved not only an exercise in substantial legal and practical analysis but also an excursion into creative legal writing due to the need to generate a  product that would serve to focus the attention of commercial arbitrators and provide them with a practical resource that was easy to use. The Honorable Curtis E. von Kann (ret.), Editor in Chief of the first edition, ultimately conceived the format that continues to provide the structural framework upon which the Guide is founded. The goal has always been to identify best practices that arbitrators can employ in order to comply with evolving arbitration law and rules and, further, to provide users of arbitration with the highest possible standards of economy and fairness in the disposition of business disputes.

Over the years, the CCA Best Practices Guide—which has grown from 260 to 670 pages and from 12 to 20 chapters—has provided incisive and groundbreaking analysis of many of the issues that commercial arbitrators confront before their appointment, and during and after the commencement and completion of commercial arbitrations. Perhaps most importantly, the Guide has always offered reasoned explanations of why certain approaches for addressing particularly complex issues are deemed to be so-called best practices and, when a single best practice cannot be identified, what considerations should normally be considered when determining what approach to take. Prior editions of the Guide have proved to have been at the fore in their prescient and insightful analyses of such issues as the appointment of arbitrators and arbitrator disclosures; the use of party-appointed arbitrators both before and after the 2004 amendments to the AAA Commercial Rules and the AAA/ABA Code of Ethics; finality and functus officio; intratribunal relations; and unique issues relating to class arbitrations, international arbitration, and hybrid arbitration processes. 

The fourth edition of the Guide substantially expands and refines discussions found in prior editions, including with respect to such critical matters as arbitrability; the management of commercial arbitrations; the drafting of arbitral awards and decisions; and eDiscovery. The fourth edition also contains new chapters concerning third-party summonses, emergency arbitrators, and construction arbitrations. Readers of the fourth edition will further benefit both from a new and comprehensive checklist that may be used for preliminary conferences and from new guidance relating to a party’s failure to make deposits or pay administrative fees. Finally, the fourth edition includes two new appendices separately pertaining to (1) the security of arbitrators’ electronic information and (2) social media and related disclosure considerations.

In the words of some of the leading representatives of the AAA, JAMS, and the CPR, the CCA Best Practices Guide is a “highly comprehensive and authoritative source” that “sets a clear standard for exceptional performance” by providing commercial arbitrators with the “essential tools” they require to provide the quality of service expected of them by the arbitration community. The CCA fully anticipates that in the coming years the CCA Best Practices Guide will continue to evolve and improve with the publication of future editions. The fourth edition of the Guide is available online at

James M. Gaitis, Distinguished Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators and Editor in Chief, The College of Commercial Arbitrators Guide to Best Practices in Commercial Arbitration (J. Gaitis, A.H. Gwyn, L. Kaster, J. McCauley eds., JURIS 2017 4th ed.)


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