When resolving a financial dispute through Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration, the length of time your case will take to resolve will vary greatly depending on whether you settle your case or if an arbitrator or arbitration panel decides your case through a hearing. The typical timeline ranges from one year to a year and a half.
In most cases, arbitration is going to be significantly quicker than taking your case to court. At Meyer Wilson, we have been representing investment fraud victims through the arbitration process for more than 20 years. Reach out to us today to schedule a free case review with one of the investment fraud lawyers from our firm.
Steps in the FINRA Arbitration Process
There are a variety of steps in the FINRA arbitration process. However, resolving your dispute in this manner is typically going to be far quicker than going to court.
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Submitting Required Documents
When submitting a request for arbitration to FINRA, you will need to provide various documents, including a Statement of Claim. The Statement of Claim includes information about the nature of the dispute, the parties involved, and the amount of money being sought.
Claimants must also file a Submission Agreement, listing the parties involved in the case, confirming it will be administered by FINRA, and agreeing to abide by the decision of the arbitrators if the case proceeds to a hearing. Along with these documents, the claimant must also submit the required filing fees.
Once FINRA has received the necessary documents and fees, they will review the claim to make decisions about arbitration, such as how many arbitrators will be required. Larger disputes will use a panel of three arbitrators, while a single arbitrator will decide smaller disputes.
The next step will be for FINRA to assign a case number and inform the involved parties about how to contact FINRA about the case. FINRA will send a case packet with a copy of the Statement of Claim and a detailed letter regarding rules and deadlines to the financial firm against whom the claim is being made.
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The respondent whom the claim has been filed against has 45 days to research the details of the claim and prepare and serve a response.
The respondent, usually a financial advisor, broker, or brokerage firm, can outline their defense, include any exhibits that support their position, and even file a counterclaim against the defendant or a cross-claim against another respondent.
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Once FINRA has checked through all the documentation provided by the respondent, it is time to select arbitrators. FINRA provides each party with identical lists of the possible arbitrators randomly generated by a computer. Along with the list, FINRA includes a detailed report about each arbitrator, including employment, education, training, and past rulings.
Both sides will have the option to remove or strike arbitrators from the list while ranking those remaining by order of preference.
Once arbitrators have been selected, a pre-hearing conference with the arbitration panel and the representatives of both parties will take place. This conference is usually held over the phone.
During the pre-hearing conference, various things will be discussed, including procedural issues, the alternative option of mediation, and scheduling the in-person hearing.
During the discovery phase, the parties will exchange documents relevant to the case and identify their witnesses.
During this stage, the parties will present their case in front of the arbitration panel. Those present for the hearing will include the involved parties, their legal representatives, and witnesses. Expert witnesses are usually allowed in the room for the full hearing, while fact witnesses will likely be asked to wait outside until called upon to give their testimony.
Once everyone is ready to begin, the chair of the arbitration panel will call the hearing to order. Everyone will then identify themselves before the chair swears in all parties, including witnesses. The claimant’s representative will make the opening statement, followed by a statement from the representative of the respondent.
The claimant will then present their evidence and call witnesses. After questioning witnesses, the respondent will have the opportunity to cross-examine. After the claimant has presented their case, the respondent will have their chance. It is then time for closing arguments.
After the hearing, the arbitrators will consider the evidence and make a decision, usually within 30 days. If there are three arbitrators, a majority vote will decide the outcome. The decision is put in writing, and all arbitrators will sign.
If the respondent is ordered to make a payment, they must do so within 30 days or petition the court to vacate the award. If the financial firm misses this deadline, they risk FINRA suspension. All FINRA arbitration decisions are legally binding, and appealing the decision with the court is only available in a small number of cases.
If your case resolves through a settlement, it will likely take around one year, while cases resolved through an arbitration hearing are typically decided in approximately a year and a half.
Get Started on Your FINRA Arbitration Today
When pursuing compensation through FINRA arbitration, securing the services of an experienced investment fraud lawyer will significantly increase your chances of getting the money you need and deserve. At Meyer Wilson, our team has secured over $350 million on behalf of our clients.
Contact us today by phone or through our website to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
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