89-F-119 - Fee Dispute Committee members excused from duty to report

 

BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE

FORMAL ETHICS OPINION 89-F-119


Fee arbitration committee members of the various bar associations are excused from their ethical obligation to report ethical misconduct discovered during the course of their service as a fee arbitration committee member.

Fee arbitration committees are designed to resolve, through settlement or arbitration, disputes between clients and attorneys concerning fees for legal services. This affords members of the public with a convenient forum for an impartial review of a fee dispute with an attorney, and also affords assistance to attorneys in settling controversies with other attorneys regarding legal fees or division of fees. The arbitration process generally helps to keep down litigation over fees. The bar association committees arbitrate and decide fee disputes upon the written agreement of both parties to submit the dispute to arbitration. The decision of the panel is binding with only limited rights of appeal in accordance with the Uniform Arbitration Act, T.C.A. Section 29-5-301, et seq.

The Board recognizes that in some instances attorneys may be reluctant to participate in the peer arbitration process due to the mandatory reporting of ethical misconduct provisions of Disciplinary Rule 1-103 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Therefore, in order to encourage greater participation and cooperation in the fee arbitration process, panel members are excused from the ethical requirement to report ethical misconduct during the course of service as a panel member.

This 8th day of August, 1989.

ETHICS COMMITTEE:

Cornelia A. Clark
Cecil D. Branstetter
Jerry C. Colley

APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD