Public Chairperson Training – Recommended Changes

By Geoff Hafer, Fall 2016 Student Intern

In part four of this five-part series, we addressed the current state of Public Chairperson Training in relation to SR-FINRA-2016-033.  By reducing the experience required of arbitrators, as proposed in SR-FINRA-2016-033, Public Chairperson Training is all the more important.  As it currently stands, Public Chairperson Training is lacking any emphasis towards the type of claims our clients, at the Investor Advocacy Clinic at Georgia State College of Law, bring.

Once again, with claims less than $50,000 up to $100,000, only one public chairperson arbitrator will hear the claim.  Although we support FINRA’s decision to increase the number of eligible public chairpersons, we want to ensure that the intent of the prior rule, ensuring experienced and well-qualified arbitrators chair panels or decide simplified claims, continues.  To that end, we have recommended that FINRA require additional training as part of the proposal to ensure that public chair qualified arbitrators continue to be the most experienced and qualified arbitrators.  For the full comment submitted by the Investor Advocacy Clinic at Georgia State College of Law, click here.

We propose that FINRA include in the Office of Dispute Resolution Chairperson Training a module or section that specifically addresses the procedural and substantive issues that regularly arise in live arbitration proceedings.  From prehearing conferences, to discovery, motions, evidentiary hearings, remedies, etc. arbitrators must be aware of the challenges and nuances from not only large claims but smaller claims as well.  As an alternative, we suggest that the training requirement include a live or mock proceeding be observed before becoming eligible to serve as a public chair.  There is no substitute for hands-on learning and mentoring as we at the clinic can confirm.

Hopefully this series has shed light on the importance of comments and how seemingly minor rule changes can impact investors big and small.