A group for attorneys representing individual and institutional investors in securities arbitration disputes has formally petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to remove a requirement that allows representatives from the securities industry to serve as arbitrators on Financial Industry Regulatory Association (FINRA) panels.
The Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association, or PIABA, filed its petition with the SEC on June 11.
Currently, FINRA rules mandate that any investor case involving $100,000 or more in damages must be heard by a three-person FINRA arbitration panel, with one of the panelists affiliated with the securities industry. PIABA wants investors to have the right to strike industry representatives from hearing their cases.
“Requiring customers who believe they have been wronged by the securities industry to have claims decided by panels that must include a representative of that securities industry creates at the least the appearance of bias, if not outright bias,” said PIABA in its petition to the SEC.
As reported June 21 by Investment News, PIABA essentially is asking FINRA to expand a two-year pilot program that it launched in October 2008. The program entails 11 major brokerage firms that agreed to allow up to 276 investor plaintiffs a year choose all-public arbitration panels.
Year-to-date through May 2009, 3,163 arbitration cases have been filed with FINRA. That is up 85% from the same period last year.
If you are an individual or institutional investor and have concerns about your investments, contact Maddox Hargett & Caruso at 800-505.5515. We can evaluate your situation to determine if you have a claim.