Following a two-year endeavor by an internal working group, the American Arbitration Association (AAA) has revised its Commercial Arbitration Rules and Mediation Procedures, effective September 1, 2022. The revisions include the addition of new rules, as well as significant amendments to existing ones.
As described by the AAA, the amendments standardize some important and longstanding practices of the institution, as well as revise rules with a focus on process improvements.
Among the additions is new Rule R-8 on Consolidation and Joinder, which is the AAA’s first-ever commercial rule for the consolidation of existing arbitrations or the joinder of additional parties. It outlines the procedures by which “two or more arbitrations may be consolidated.” In summary, when there is disagreement among the parties regarding consolidation, the party seeking consolidation must make a written request, and the other parties must provide their written responses within the periods specified. The AAA has discretion to direct that the request be decided by the arbitrator appointed in the first-filed case or to appoint a consolidation arbitrator for the sole purpose of deciding the request. The rule provides a non-exhaustive list of relevant circumstances to be considered by the deciding arbitrator, namely:
a) The terms and compatibility of the agreements to arbitrate,
b) Applicable law,
c) The timeliness of the request to consolidate and the progress already made in the arbitrations,
d) Whether the arbitrations raise common issues of law and/or fact, and
e) Whether consolidation of the arbitrations would serve the interests of justice and efficiency.