Role of the Arbitrator: duty to disclose
Arbitrators must be impartial in both appearance and in fact. Therefore, they have a duty to disclose. Arbitrators submit detailed biographical information at the time they join FINRA’s arbitrator roster. The information collected from the application is compiled to create an Arbitrator Disclosure Report (Disclosure Report). During the arbitrator selection process, the individual parties are given the opportunity to review the Disclosure Report of each proposed arbitrator.
The Disclosure Report lists previous FINRA awards rendered by the arbitrator, and also lists the current cases to which the arbitrator is assigned.
To ensure that the arbitrators’ Disclosure Reports are accurate and up-to-date, FINRA sends the arbitrators their Disclosure Report each time the arbitrator is appointed to a case. Arbitrators will update the report at that time. The arbitrator’s duty to disclose is continuous and imperative. Disclosure includes any relationship, experience and background information that may affect—or even appear to affect—the arbitrator’s ability to be impartial and the parties’ belief that the arbitrator will be able to render a fair decision.
When making disclosures, arbitrators consider all aspects of their professional and personal lives and disclose all ties between the arbitrator, the parties and the matter in dispute, no matter how remote they may seem. If there is a question about whether to make a disclosure then they are required to make it.
FINRA requires arbitrators to disclose any direct or indirect financial or personal interest in the outcome of the arbitration, as well as any existing or past, direct or indirect, financial, business, professional, family, social or other relationships with any of the parties, representatives, witnesses or co-panelists.
Arbitrators are also required to continually make reasonable efforts to inform themselves of relationships and interests including changes in their or their immediate family member’s employment, job functions or clients.
About the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator. He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment. He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.
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