Expedited Proceedings for Senior or Seriously Ill Parties

FINRA Office of Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) recognizes that various state statutes provide for speedy trials in civil actions involving senior or seriously ill parties. Although ODR staff cannot shorten the time requirements set forth in the Code of Arbitration Procedure (Code), upon request, staff will expedite the administration of arbitration proceedings in matters involving senior or seriously ill parties. ODR implements on a national basis various measures to expedite arbitration proceedings in matters involving senior or seriously ill parties.

Under these proceedings, ODR staff will endeavor to do the following on an expedited basis:

  • Complete the arbitrator selection process;
  • Schedule the initial pre-hearing conference;
  • Serve the final award; and
  • Determine whether the parties are interested in mediation.

By mutual agreement, parties are also free to reduce the time requirements contained in the Code. Staff will also determine promptly whether the parties are interested in mediation.

Arbitrator Sensitivity

ODR expects its arbitrators to be sensitive to the needs of senior or seriously ill parties when scheduling hearing dates, resolving discovery disputes, and determining the reasonableness of postponements. At the initial pre-hearing conference, counsel for a senior or seriously ill party should advise the arbitration panel of the party's desire for expedited hearings. When such a request is made, the arbitration panel is expected to press for hearing dates and discovery deadlines that will expedite the process, yet still provide a fair amount of time for case preparation.

  • Scheduling hearing dates;
  • Considering postponement requests; and
  • Setting discovery deadlines. 

At the initial pre-hearing conference, counsel for a senior or seriously ill party should advise the arbitration panel of the party's desire for expedited hearings. When such a request is made, the arbitration panel is expected to press for hearing dates and discovery deadlines that will expedite the process, yet still provide a fair amount of time for case preparation.

Conclusion

ODR intends for these measures to improve the arbitration process for disputes involving senior or seriously ill parties, while maintaining procedural balance and fairness for all involved parties.