What Are Arbitration Service Providers?
Arbitration service providers are large and small, not for profit and for profit, organizations that develop arbitration rules, provide arbitrators, and 'to some degree' administer arbitrations. The reason for the term 'to some degree' is that once arbitrators are appointed, it is they, rather than the arbitration service provider, that have much of the legal power to administer the arbitration. Some providers, such as the American Arbitration Association (AAA), are long established leaders in the arbitration 'industry', have multiple offices throughout the United States and even internationally, have developed specialized rules for particular industries (for instance, the construction industry), and provide training, education, and large staffs of administrators. The AAA also has large panels of seasoned, specialized arbitrators. Those services come at a cost - the fees of the large arbitration services (as well as the fees of their panel arbitrators, which are separate) can be quite high.
In fact, some businesses use contracts selecting the AAA rules as a means to impede counterparties from asserting claims, due to the cost of the arbitration process. Due to concerns about such use of arbitration provisions, the AAA and some other arbitration service providers have adopted rules or standards lowering the cost of access to arbitration in consumer disputes.
Requirements to arbitrate according to the rules of national arbitration service providers are often found in form contracts distributed nationally. For instance, arbitration in accordance with the AAA construction industry rules is typically provided for in construction contracts distributed by the American Institute of Architects.
Other arbitration services are 'mean and lean,' providing a single set of rules, much lower arbitration service fees, and smaller and often more regional panels of arbitrators. An regional example is Arbitration Service of Portand (ASP) in Portland, Oregon. Local businesses wanting to use arbitration as a means of dispute resolution often designate local arbitration services to ensure that local (usually experienced lawyers) arbitrators are selected and to avoid the bureacracy of the national arbitration service providers.
The rules of the national and major arbitration service providers are typically found on their websites. The rules of some of the smaller arbitration service providers are sometimes difficult to locate.
No matter what acronym you choose, arbitrator fees are never 'low' because arbitrators are typically experienced business people or lawyers who can command substantial fees for their services. For an important dispute, would you want an inexperienced arbitrator? Would you select solely based on price?