December 3, 2010
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed change to the arbitration panel composition rule.
I have represented investors in securities arbitration proceedings since 1992. On numreous occasions, my investor clients have expressed dismay when I have explained that the the arbitration forum in which their case will be heard requires that one of the members of the arbitration panel be a current or former employee of a securities industry member. The perception of unfairness has been evident.
The removal of the requirement for an securities industry-affiliated arbitrator to be on each arbitration panel is a huge step in the right direction toward a fair forum for the resolution of investor claims.
However, another critical step must be taken before the FINRA arbitration forum can become truly a level playing field for the resolution of investor complaints. That next step is implementing a rule change to give investors the choice to file their claims in court or in the FINRA arbitration forum. Investor perception of the arbitration forum as being biased in favor of the industry will exist as long as investors are compelled to resolve their claims in the FINRA arbitration forum.