Settling Broker-Dealer/Customer Disputes

Ever wonder about how customer disputes are resolved between investors and broker-dealers?
Is a lawsuit necessary?
Do you need to hire a lawyer?

Settling Customer Disputes

Usually, disputes over securities brokerage/trading are settled through arbitration as opposed to traditional litigation. Though arbitration is the primary form of dispute resolution, mediation may also be used as an alternative.
In most contract agreements between securities consumers and broker-dealers, arbitrations are written out as the means of dispute resolution and are subject to the governing rules and regulations of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).


This process differs from traditional litigation in several ways:

  • A neutral arbiter oversees the resolution process instead of a judge or jury
  • Arbitrations have a limited grounds for appeal
  • Arbiters follow FINRA’s Code of Arbitration Procedure instead of legal precedent
  • Documents submitted during arbitrations are not generally made publicly available
  • Arbitration is usually more timely and cost-efficient than litigation
FINRA Arbitrations

Several different procedures for arbitrations are addressed by FINRA, based on nature of disputes and value of claims.

  • Simplified Arbitration
    • Claims valued under $50,000
    • Least costly method
    • One arbiter assigned to dispute
    • In-person hearings not necessary
  • Arbiter Selection
    • Claim value $50,000 or less – 1 arbiter
    • Values of $50,000-$100,000 – 1 or 3 arbiter panel
    • Claims over $100,000 – 3 arbiter panel
    • Read FINRA’s FAQ for arbiter selection process
  • Securities Firms Using FINRA Process
    • Bats BZX Exchange, Inc., Bats BYZ Exchange, Inc., Bats EDGA Exchange, Inc. and Bats EDGX Exchange, Inc.
    • BOX Options Exchange, LLC
    • Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and C2
    • IEX Group
    • International Securities Exchange, LLC (ISE), Gemini and Mercury
    • MIAX Options Exchange (MIAX)
    • Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) (a self-regulatory organization for municipal securities)
    • NASDAQ
    • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
    • NYSE Amex
    • NYSE Arca
  • Customer Dispute Fees
    • Filing fee assessed based on value of claim. Typically $225-$4,000
    • Hearing session fees based on dispute amount and number of arbiters
    • Arbitrations may be subject to other assorted fees (administrative, adjournment, etc.)
  • Filing a Customer Dispute
    • Visit the FINRA Office of Dispute Resolution website to find resources and information on filing a claim
    • Customers usually have 6 years from date of occurrence to file a claim, but other statute of limitations may apply
  • Finding a Lawyer
    • Though hiring an attorney is not necessary for an arbitration, customers may opt for legal counsel to navigate the process. This requires an attorney skilled in securities disputes. Savage Villoch Law, PLLC has been fighting for clients involved in securities disputes for over 20 years. Contact us today to find out your options in protecting your financial investments.
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