Dan Solin offers a disturbing inside view of FINRA arbitration. Given that it is binding, mandatory pre-dispute arbitration controlled by the industry being sued, it is not surprising that the table is tilted dramatically in favor of the financial industries and brokers. Here’s an excerpt from Solin’s article:
If you have an account with a retail broker, or are employed by one, you signed an agreement requiring you to submit all disputes to mandatory arbitration administered by FINRA. The idea of requiring investors and employees to arbitrate disputes before a tribunal appointed by the very industry being sued is deeply troubling. Because it deprives American citizens of their constitutional rights to access to the courtroom and trial by a jury of their peers, it has neither the appearance nor the reality of impartiality. Among others, Itestified before Congress and urged it to enact legislation prohibiting mandatory arbitration clauses as being fundamentally unfair.
A study I co-authored of more than 14,000 FINRA arbitration awards over a ten-year period found that investors with significant claims suing major brokerage firms could expect to recover only 12 percent of the amount claimed. It is not surprising that many investors required to submit to this process perceive it to be biased against them.
Note the $60,000 attorney fee award assessed against the man filing the arbitration claim described by Solin. Can you imagine many sane people exposing themselves to that sort of risk, especially when it is a rare court that would step in to reverse such an injustice? That’s what happened in the case Solin describes, but you’ll need to look long and hard to find other cases where a court disturbs a FINRA arbitrator’s decision.