From: Scott R. Shewan
Attn: Nancy Morris, Secretary
Dear Ms. Morris:
Please accept this e-mail as my comment to the above-referenced proposal to revise FINRA's definition of who qualifies to be a "public" arbitrator (Rule 12100(u)). As an attorney who regularly represents public investors before FINRA arbitration panels, I have seen firsthand the harm which an improperly designated public arbitrator can have upon the perceived fairness of a proceeding.
I support the proposed rule change. In my view, the change in the definition, while far from perfect, is a step in the right direction and should be implemented.
Having said that, I do wish to stress that there is room for greater improvement in the public arbitrator definition. FINRA has chosen an arbitrary cutoff point of $50,000 in income, below which an arbitrator will be considered eligible to be a public arbitrator. In truth, an arbitrator is likely to be beholden to an industry which generates any income to him or her, no matter the amount. I am hopeful that, after this first step, FINRA will eventually propose a rule which will completely remove from the public arbitrator pool any individual who earns compensation from the industry.
I also have very strong feelings about FINRA's insistence upon including an industry member on panels which decide public investor cases; however, I believe my comments in that regard should await another occasion.
I urge approval of this rule change as a huge step in the right direction.
Scott R. Shewan