Securities dispute resolution: Deliberation, awards, fees

Arbitrators Deliberate and Grant an Award, Fees are assessed

Originally prepared by Lucia Benabentos of the Cornell Law School Securities Law Clinic.

After the hearings are concluded, the panel of arbitrators retires to deliberate and issue their decision in the form of a written document called an “award”. The length of deliberations depends on a number of factors, ranging from the number of arbitrators to the complexity of the case. However, according to FINRA, arbitrators should make a final decision within 30 days after they close the record. Decisions are based on the pleadings, the evidence, and the testimony admitted at the hearing. The arbitrators may also request additional facts and/or briefs from the parties before making their award.

Usually, awards are brief, and only include information of which party prevailed and the payment of damages if any. Reasoned awards, or explanations of the reasoning of the arbitrators, are very rare as they increase the potential for overturning of the award by a court if such an award is appealed. To minimize the potential for appealing an award, FINRA provides each panel with a form for delivering an award. The form includes information such as the nature of the initial claim, representation of the parties, motions made, hearing information, amount of damages if any, attorneys’ fees and costs awarded, and determination of counterclaims.

The arbitral panel can provide almost the same relief as any court. The panel can order payment of compensatory or punitive damages, order specific performance by ordering any party to do or refrain from doing any action, and even issue injunctive relief.

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