May 16, 2006
I write to object to the NASD's request for Accelerated Approval of Rule Filing SR-NASD-2003-158.
The filing impacts important procedural rules that govern the lone forum in which investors generally are required to have their grievances against brokerage firms heard. Because the securities industry usually inserts binding mandatory arbitration agreements into its customer contracts, customers (investors) often are left with no option but to use the NASD's forum to resolve their disputes, which often involve the loss of retirement savings. And because of the import of the NASD's procedural rules -- including those that would govern the ability of brokerage firms to have customer cases dismissed on a motion to dismiss, rather than proceed to an evidentiary hearing, and certain discovery obligations that are imposed on customers bringing claims -- customers (and investor rights advocates) should have the opportunity to be heard concerning the proposed procedural rule changes. In short, investor rights could be dramatically altered as a result of the proposed rules changes. As such, all of those who likely would be affected by the changes should be given a fair and reasonable opportunity to be heard.