May 11, 2017
The purpose of this letter is to provide the Securities and Exchange Commission with comments on the above referenced proposed rule change which was filed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) on April 26, 2017.
I am an attorney whose practice is exclusively devoted to the representation of individual and institutional investors in their disputes with the securities industry. Moreover, I am a former President and current Director Emeritus of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA) the former Chairman of FINRAs National Arbitration and Mediation Committee (NAMC) and a current public member of the NAMC the former Chairman of FINRAs Discovery Task Force Committee (DTFC) and a former member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) Modernization Task Force.
It is my understanding that the proposed amendments would amend FINRA Rules 12402 and 12403 of the Code of Arbitration Procedure for Customer Disputes (Customer Code) and FINRA Rule 13403 of the Code of Arbitration Procedure for Industry Disputes (Industry Code) to provide that the Director of FINRAs Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR Director) will send the arbitrator list or lists generated by the Neutral List Selection System (NLSS) to all parties at the same time, within approximately 30 days after the last answer is due, regardless of the parties agreement to extend any answer due date.
It is my opinion that the proposed amendments, which would result in earlier arbitrator appointment and, therefore, an earlier initial prehearing conference at which the evidentiary hearing dates are scheduled, would be a fair, equitable and reasonable approach that would facilitate the fairness and efficiency of the participant experience in the FINRA arbitration forum and should, accordingly, be approved by the SEC on an expedited basis.
Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to submit my comments on this rule filing.