Securities Arbitration before FINRA is purportedly a quick, easy and inexpensive method of resolving securities disputes. Some practitioners disagree. On June 7, 2004, FINRA Dispute Resolution implemented on a national basis various measures to expedite arbitration proceedings in matters involving senior or seriously ill parties.
Generally, from the date a Statement of Claim is filed to a final hearing the process generally takes between 12 and 15 months. Upon receipt of a Statement of Claim, the Respondent (i.e. the brokerage firm's lawyers) have 45 days to respond. Generally, within twenty days following the entry of appearance by counsel or the filing of an Answer, the FINRA Dispute Resolution Staff will provide a list of proposed arbitrators to the parties from which they may rank or strike proposed arbitrators. The parties are provided 20 days to complete and submit these rankings to to FINRA.
Typically, depending on which Regional Office of FINRA Dispute Resolution is processing your claim, an Initial Pre-hearing Conference will be scheduled within 30 days of the submission of their arbitrator rankings by the parties.
During the Initial Pre-hearing Conference (which is held telephonically) according to a script, Initial Prehearing Conference Script, the arbitrators and the parties will select dates for the completion of discovery, the filing of any discovery motions, or other motions, and any telephonic hearings or conferences with respect to these motions, the filing of pre-hearing briefs or memoranda, and the final hearing dates.
Hearings generally last three days. However, three day hearings can easily turn into three week hearings, dispersed over a series of hearing dates over several months, for a variety of reasons, including recalcitrant witnesses, over-zealous counsel, or inattentive arbitrators.
Within 30 days, and often sooner, the Arbitration Panel will render an Award. Download Arbitrators Reference Guide
Accordingly, it is generally agreed, that in most cases, from the filing of the Statement of Claim to the rendering of an Award, from start to finish, it takes approximately 12 to 18 months in most securities arbitrations.