In 1963, a small group of well-credentialed individuals active in maritime arbitration in New York foresaw the need for an organization dedicated to the promotion of sound arbitration practice by experienced and highly qualified maritime and commercial professionals who would observe strict ethical standards. As a result, they formed the SMA, a professional, nonprofit organization that, unlike other arbitral forums, requires its members to only issue fully reasoned awards. The SMA then makes those awards available to the maritime community through subscription to its Awards Service, as well as the Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw information retrieval systems. Also, unlike some other arbitral forums, the SMA charges no fee to the parties for its services, nor does the SMA oversee or administer the arbitration proceeding. Instead, that crucial task is left to the discretion of the participating arbitrators.
Although the arbitrations and mediations in which SMA members participate often are governed by the SMA Rules, the SMA does not administer SMA ADR proceedings. SMA ADR proceedings are administered, controlled and decided solely by the participating SMA members, subject to applicable laws and agreed procedures. Unless disputants request or a court so directs, the SMA does not recommend or select particular individuals to be arbitrators or mediators. Disputants are invited to select from the SMA Membership Roster which states the professional credentials of each SMA member.