September 20, 2005
To the many fine comments submitted I would only add that the argument that industry arbitrators provide needed expertise is a canard. In my 15 years in this field, Ive found that the issues presented to the arbitrators in the vast majority of securities arbitration cases are relatively straight-forward and capable of being understood by panelists without an industry background. In those cases involving some technical aspect of the securities industry, expert testimony can and should be offered to educate the panelists. Any expertise brought into the hearing room by an industry arbitrator is outweighed by the perception and in some cases the reality that he or she is there to represent and stand up for the industry against customer claimants, and comes to the process with a presumption against customer claimants. The mandate in arbitration is to do what is right and fair. Neutrality, in fact and appearance, is more important than technical expertise in bringing that about.