FINRA Proceedings Under COVID-19

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Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the primary broker-dealer self-regulatory organization in the United States and also operates the largest alternative dispute resolution forum for disputes between broker-dealers and between broker-dealers and customers. Like other regulatory entities, FINRA has adapted its processes in response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). It has postponed and continues postponing arbitrations, mediations, and disciplinary proceedings, has waived and is waiving postponement fees, and has been operating exclusively through telecommunications.

First, FINRA has postponed all in-person arbitration and mediation proceedings scheduled through May 31, 2020, and its staff will be contacting affected parties concerning future scheduling and remote scheduling options. Importantly, postponement of the hearings will not affect other deadlines on the matters.

Second, FINRA’s Office of Hearing Officers (OHO), now working remotely and serving and accepting service of notices, pleadings, and other documents by email, has postponed Disciplinary Proceeding hearings scheduled through April. Pending expedited proceedings which are not in-person are not postponed. All case deadlines continue to apply, unless the parties jointly agree otherwise.

Third, FINRA will waive postponement fees when parties to proceedings stipulate to adjourn in-person hearing dates scheduled from June 1, 2020, through September 4, 2020, if the party seeking adjournment provides written notice of the stipulation to adjourn more than twenty (20) days prior to the first scheduled hearing date. Also, parties stipulating to adjourn in-person hearing dates may stipulate to changing other case deadlines.

Fourth and finally, FINRA Dispute Resolution offers virtual hearing services to parties in all cases, either by joint agreement or by panel order. FINRA specifically refers parties to Zoom as providing high-quality, secure, user-friendly services for video and telephonic hearings and remote document-sharing.

Parties desiring to schedule virtual hearings, needing technical support, or seeking answers to specific questions about pending cases should contact FINRA staff and their Case Administrator for details.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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