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

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