Decision & Awards
After closing the record, the arbitration panel considers all of the evidence, deliberates together, and decides what relief the claimant is entitled to, if any.
In a three-arbitrator panel, an award is based on the vote of a majority of the arbitrators; a unanimous decision is not required.
Customer Code Rules 12608, 12904
Industry Code Rules 13608, 13904
Awards must be in writing, but arbitrators are not required to write opinions or provide explanations or reasons for their decision. The panel will issue an award within 30 business days from the date the record is closed.
All awards rendered under the Codes are final and are not subject to review or appeal, except under limited circumstances. For exceptions to this rule, view "Challenges to an Arbitration Award."
In an award, the panel will decide whether to assess any costs and forum fees against any party, and how to allocate those costs and fees among the parties.
Once the award is signed by a majority of the arbitrators, FINRA will send copies of the signed award to each party or representative of the party. FINRA makes all arbitration awards publicly available for free by posting them on Arbitration Awards Online.
An award will contain the following information:
A sample arbitration award is available for review under the "Related Links" section of this page.
Customer Code Rule 12904
Industry Code Rule 13904
FINRA does not have an appeals process through which a party may challenge an award. This means that FINRA does not hear appeals on arbitration awards.
However, under federal and state laws, there are limited grounds on which a court may hear a party's appeal on an award. Specifically, the law permits a district court to vacate or overturn an arbitration award if it finds that:
For more information, view the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §10.
Many arbitration cases end with a settlement between parties, either through direct negotiation or through mediation. Others end with an award.
If a claimant is awarded damages, the respondent must pay within thirty days of receiving the written award, unless the respondent files a motion to vacate. A motion to vacate is a challenge to the validity of the award. Courts decide these motions and can either vacate (or overturn), confirm, or modify the award. A confirmed award stands as issued by the arbitrators. An award vacated by the courts is voided.
If a respondent does not file a motion to vacate and does not pay an award within thirty days after receiving the award, the claimant should notify FINRA.
Customer Code Rule 12904
Industry Code Rules 13904
Under FINRA rules, industry parties must pay arbitration awards within 30 days or risk suspension by FINRA. Specifically, FINRA Rule 9554 contains expedited suspension procedures that address a brokerage firm's or broker's failure to pay FINRA arbitration awards. FINRA can suspend or cancel the registration of a broker or brokerage firm if that party does not comply with an arbitration award or settlement related to an arbitration or mediation.
However, a brokerage firm or broker may assert four defenses to the expedited suspension process:
View Regulatory Notice 10-31 for additional information.