(a) The arbitrator is authorized but not limited to:
(2) compel the parties to exchange all pertinent medical reports and other documentary evidence, and proposals for resolving the issues in dispute;
(3) conduct, at the arbitrator's discretion, preliminary conferences to identify issues to resolve questions concerning evidence and witnesses, and to otherwise expedite the arbitration proceeding;
(4) exclude individuals other than the parties and the employer from the arbitration proceeding;
(5) administer oaths;
(6) take official notice of the law of Texas and other jurisdictions, Texas city and county ordinances, the content of the Texas Register, the rules of state agencies, facts that are judicially cognizable, and generally recognized facts within the division's specialized knowledge;
(7) determine the relevancy and materiality of the evidence offered, without a requirement to conform to legal rules of evidence; and
(8) accept stipulations by the parties on uncontested issues.
(b) The arbitrator has a duty to:
(1) disclose to all parties and the division's chief clerk of proceedings any potential conflicts of interest prior to and during the arbitration, including any pecuniary, personal or business related interest. Further, to disclose any circumstances that may affect or reasonably raise a question as to the impartiality of the arbitrator, including any past or present relationships with the parties;
(2) protect the interests of all parties, including the advisement of the injured employee's rights if not represented;
(3) maintain the confidentiality of the arbitration proceeding;
(4) encourage brevity, consistent with completeness, at all stages of the arbitration proceeding;
(5) ensure that all relevant evidence has been disclosed to the arbitrator and to all parties;
(6) render an award based upon the evidence and consistent with the terms of the Act, and the rules and policies of the division;
(7) ensure an electronic recording is made of the proceedings;
(8) arrange for the provision of interpreter services if necessary; and
(9) comply with standards of conduct and ethical principles of the arbitrator's professional group, those set forth in the Act, division rules, and the codes of professional responsibility and conduct promulgated by the arbitrator's professional association.
The provisions of this §144.1 adopted to be effective December 31, 1991, 16 TexReg 7358; amended to be effective May 31, 2012, 37 TexReg 3856.