17 CFR § 12.210 - Initial decision.
(a) In general. Proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law briefs shall not be allowed. As soon as practicable after all submissions of proof have been received, the Judgment Officer shall make the initial decision, which he shall forthwith file with the Proceedings Clerk. Upon filing of an initial decision, the Proceedings Clerk shall immediately serve upon the parties a copy of the initial decision and a notification of the effect of a party's failure timely to appeal the initial decision to the Commission, as provided in paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section, as well as the effect of a failure by a party who has been ordered to pay a reparation award timely to file the documents required by § 12.407(c).
(1) Include a brief statement of his findings as to the facts, with references to those portions of the record which support his findings;
(4) Determine the amount of damages, if any, that the complainant has sustained as a result of respondent's violations, the amount of punitive damages, if any, for which respondent is liable to complainant, which shall not exceed $30,000, exclusive of interest and costs; and the amount, if any, for which complainant is liable to respondents based on counterclaims, which, in aggregate, shall not exceed $30,000, exclusive of interest and costs; and
(5) Include an order directing either the respondent or the complainant, depending upon whose liability is greater, to pay an amount based on the difference in the amounts determined pursuant to paragraph (b)(4) of this section, on or before a date fixed in the order.
(c) Costs; prejudgment interest. The Judgment Officer may, in the initial decision, award costs (including the costs of instituting the proceeding, and if appropriate, reasonable attorneys' fees) and, if warranted as a matter of law under the circumstances of the particular case, prejudgment interest to the party in whose favor a judgment is entered.
(1) The initial decision shall not become the final decision as to a party who shall have timely filed and perfected an appeal thereof to the Commission in accordance with § 12.401 of these rules; and
(2) The initial decision shall not become final as to any party to the proceeding if, within thirty (30) days after service of the initial decision, the Commission itself shall have placed the case on its own docket for review or stayed the effective date of the initial decision.
(e) Effect of failure to file and perfect an appeal to the Commission. Unless the Commission takes review on its own motion, the timely filing and perfection of an appeal to the Commission of the initial decision is mandatory as a prerequisite to appellate judicial review of a final decision and order entered pursuant to these rules.