Many clients are asking, “can my arbitration hearing be done online by video?” The answer is yes. FINRA allows for remote hearing services, via Zoom and teleconference, to parties in all cases. In arbitration, all parties can agree as to almost anything and FINRA will allow it – such as who the arbitrators are, methods of picking arbitrators and/or how the hearing will happen. The trick is to get your adversary to agree to alternative hearing methods or to get a sitting arbitration panel to order (force) your adversary to do it. A hearing can happen a number of ways with FINRA’s blessing, so long as it can be recorded. Next week, we expect that FINRA will set out more formal guidelines and we will update this blog in a new post.
Zoom is a user-friendly video platform that provides high-quality and secure options for conducting remote hearings. The platform allows parties, arbitrators, counsel, and witnesses to share documents and their screens with other participants. Zoom is a viable option for parties unable to attend an in-person hearing. Malecki Law’s FINRA arbitration attorneys have experience and systems in place, ready to use this method for hearings in investor arbitrations, as well as industry employment and regulatory matters. For many years, remote witnesses have participated and testified via video and telephonic methods. It is really not a completely new concept.
Whether the hearing is remote or in-person, the prehearing process will not be hindered. In customer dispute cases, where customers bring claims against their broker and/or broker-dealer, all aspects, except for an in-person hearing, are done remotely (such as filing the claims, resolving discovery disputes, and interviewing witnesses). As a matter of fact, most claims against a broker and/or broker-dealer will settle before the hearing is scheduled to begin.