Expedited Proceedings for Seniors & Seriously Ill
Various state statutes provide for speedy trials in civil actions involving seniors or seriously ill parties. FINRA recognized a need for expedited hearings in arbitrations involving such parties in its dispute resolution forum. Thus, on June 7, 2004, FINRA implemented various measures to expedite arbitration proceedings in matters involving seniors or seriously ill parties. Parties are eligible to participate in the program if they are at least 65 years old or have a serious health condition
Under these proceedings, FINRA Dispute Resolution staff (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.
Arbitrators are encouraged to consider the health and age of a party when:
- Scheduling hearing dates;
- Considering postponement requests; and
- Setting discovery deadlines.
FINRA Dispute Resolution Staff Actions
Although staff cannot shorten the time requirements set forth in the Customer Code, upon a party's request, staff will expedite the administration of arbitration proceedings in matters involving seniors or seriously ill parties. In such situations, staff will begin the arbitrator selection process, schedule the Initial Prehearing Conference (IPHC), and serve the final award as quickly as possible. By mutual agreement, parties are also free to reduce the time requirements contained in the Customer Code. Staff will also determine promptly whether the parties are interested in mediation, which could further expedite resolution of the dispute.
FINRA encourages its arbitrators to be sensitive to the needs of seniors or seriously ill parties when scheduling hearing dates, resolving discovery disputes, and determining the reasonableness of postponements.
At the IPHC, counsel for a senior or seriously ill party should advise the arbitration panel of the party's desire for expedited hearings. When a party makes such a request, 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.