March 23, 2008
My name is Steve Buchwalter. I am an attorney practicing in Encino, California. For over a dozen years, I have represented hundreds of clients in SRO arbitrations. While the vast majority of my practice consists of representing public investors, throughout my career I have represented broker-dealers, brokers, and investors in both industry and customer disputes.
I have seen arbitration morph from an informal process designed so the customer (possibly with the help of a friend or business associate) could represent themselves with the hearings lasting a day or two, to the process it has now become – a court like process filled with various court like motions which are filed throughout the arbitration, most of these being motions to dismiss.
While these motions are almost never granted, it is not unusual for such a motion to cost the customer thousands of dollars. It is also not unusual for more than one such motion to be filed in any given case. Most of the Motions simply say that the customer should not prevail because the broker dealer has a different version of the facts or if the arbitration claim would have been filed in different courts throughout the union, under those courts procedural rules, it should be dismissed.
Even though there is no SRO rule in existence that would allow motions to dismiss to be made, they are made nonetheless and heard before the customer can get the discovery he/she needs, and always before the customer is allowed to question the broker or the broker-dealer as to their version of the facts. Defending these motions is a colossal waste of time and resources.
I believe that SRO arbitration should not involve motions to dismiss at all. However, I also believe that this rule is better than what exists today. For that reason, I support it.
LAW OFFICES OF STEVE A. BUCHWALTER, P.C.
16133 Ventura Blvd.
Encino, CA 91436