The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says it will re-open all of its dispute resolution venues for in-person arbitration in less than two months.
Finra had postponed in-person proceedings in arbitration and mediation in March 2020 due to Covid-19 and extended the postponement several times.
Last month, Finra announced that it would restart in-person arbitration hearings at 62 of its 69 dispute resolution services locations on July 5. The self-regular said it would continue postponement of in-person hearings until July 30 at its locations in Augusta, Ga.; Boca Raton, Fla.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Detroit, Mich.; Philadelphia; Providence, R.I.; and Wilmington, Del.
On Friday, Finra announced on its website that in-person hearings at those seven locations would resume on August 2.
The self-regulator says that it’s working with public health experts and reviewing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine appropriate safety measures at each venue and will send safety protocols to all parties and arbitrators. Some of those measures may include holding hearings in venues permitting social distancing; providing hand sanitizer in every room; requiring the use of masks and providing them when necessary; and using Plexiglas dividers and face shields when witnesses are required to remove their masks.
From March 2020 to March 2021, Finra’s arbitrators have conducted hearings with one or more hearing taking place via Zoom on 263 arbitration cases, including on 104 customer cases and 159 industry cases, according to the self-regulator.
The Public Investors Advocate Bar Association has opposed the previous postponements of in-person hearings, arguing that delaying “in-person hearings benefits the Finra-member brokers and brokerage firms defending the arbitration claims brought by their customers in this forum,” as reported.
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