Individual arbitration claims filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) totaled 5,545 through Sept. 30 – up 60% from the same period last year. Linda Fienberg, who serves as president of dispute resolution for FINRA, told Barron’s last month that she expects to see 7,500 cases filed by the end of the year.
The record of cases filed was set in 2003, with 8,945 cases filed.
In other investor news, the proposed Investor Protection Act of 2009 is up for a vote on Nov. 4. The bill, among other things, would give the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the ability to ban mandatory arbitration.
Separately, FINRA has expanded a pilot program that allows investors who are filing eligible claims the opportunity to select an arbitration panel composed of three public arbitrators instead of two public and one non-public.
In its second year, the program will expand from 11 to 14 broker/dealers, and the number of eligible cases will increase from 276 to 411, a rise of nearly 50%. Only the investor filing the claim can elect to participate in the program and the firms cannot choose which cases are eligible.