FINRA Dispute Resolution arbitration offers a fair and expedited dispute resolution pathway for investors looking to resolve a dispute with their broker or securities firm. The arbitration process works as an alternative to traditional litigation and operates completely independent of the court system. As a result, this process often allows parties to save on both cost and time in the process of resolving a dispute.
There are some situations in which FINRA arbitration is required, such as when a written agreement between the parties mandates it. In order to be eligible for FINRA arbitration, an investor must be seeking to file a claim stemming from the business activities of their broker or brokerage firm, and the event in question must have taken place within the last six years (in most states). 
Generally, FINRA arbitration allows an investor to seek either monetary or securities damages resulting from the business activities of their broker or brokerage firm. To get the filing process started, an investor must submit a Statement of Claim, a FINRA Submission Agreement, and related filing fees, all of which are available to view on FINRA’s website. 
The format and related fees for the arbitration itself vary based on the amount of money in controversy. When the amount in controversy is below $10,000, a hearing session will be conducted with just one arbitrator, and the session fee will be between $50 and $450. If the amount in controversy is above $10,000, a panel of three arbitrators may be used instead, and the hearing session fee will range from a minimum of $600 to a maximum of $1,575. 
Once FINRA receives all of the initial required documents, they analyze the claim and determine whether a one- or three-person arbitration panel will be used. A case number is created, and FINRA will notify the respondent – the party the investor has filed their claim against – about the case. So long as the respondent is registered with FINRA, they will be required to arbitrate.
The respondent then has 45 days to research the claim lodged against them and to respond. FINRA analyzes the response along with any counter claims or cross claims.
Next, the parties choose their arbitrators from a randomly generated list of names supplied by FINRA. FINRA arbitrators are not FINRA employees, instead they are contractors who are evaluated by FINRA on the basis of their employment, professional licenses, and education. They are chosen from diverse backgrounds and must take an oath to remain neutral and decide cases solely on the facts and meris.
Once arbitrators are chosen and agreed upon by both parties, there will be an initial pre-hearing conference, where investors are typically represented by an attorney. The arbitration hearing is scheduled, and discovery begins.
Discovery allows both parties to exchange documents and identify witnesses and is governed by rules within FINRA’s Discovery Guide. After discovery is completed, the arbitration hearing takes place.
The arbitration hearing takes place around a conference table, with arbitrators at the head of the table and the parties on each side. The claimant presents their side of the case first, complete with an opening statement, witnesses, and evidence, and is followed by the respondent. Objections are permitted, and the arbitrators determine whether or not they will accept evidence.
At the completion of the hearing, the arbitrator(s) will deliberate, and render their award, typically within 30 days. The award is legally binding on both parties, and FINRA offers no internal appeals process. While a party may choose to appeal an arbitration award in court, it should be noted that judges rarely overturn these awards.
From start to finish, FINRA arbitration cases that don’t settle before their hearing take approximately 16 months. The process allows for a streamlined and more private alternative to litigation in the courtroom, as FINRA arbitration documents are not made public like court documents. We invite you to contact us for details and support on your potential FINRA arbitration claim.