September 13, 2005
I am an attorney who represents brokerage firm customers in securities arbitration. The proposed rule change regarding the public arbitrator definition is welcome, but it doesnt go nearly far enough. Rather than making minor changes in the defintion of public arbitrators, as in this proposal, the NASD and NYSE should move to eliminate the industry arbitrator.
The SROs have skewed arbitration in favor of the firms through inclusion of the mandatory industry arbitrator. To add insult to injury, the rules also still allow professionals with industry relationships to serve as arbitrators, slanting the process even more in favor of the brokerage firms. These professionals obviously will not bite the hand that feeds them by finding for customers, and it makes no sense to have them in the arbitrator pool, let alone categorizing them as public arbitrators. Investors, who already are bound to arbitration through mandatory contract clauses, should not be further prejudiced by the stacked deck of industry-friendly arbitrators allowed under existing SRO rules.