FINRA sign outside its office in New York. Outside FINRA’s office in New York. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Dispute Resolution Services has postponed in-person arbitration hearings for the remainder of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Currently, only a handful of 70 hearing locations demonstrate public health conditions that are consistent with CDC guidance for activities such as in-person hearings,” FINRA states in a notice on its website.

FINRA DRS states that it will administratively postpone all in-person arbitration and mediation proceedings scheduled through Jan. 1, 2021.

“FINRA considered moving forward with in-person hearings in these locations that demonstrated public health conditions consistent with CDC guidance for activities such as in-person hearings. However, FINRA administratively postponed hearings in the locations due to arbitrator concern with participating at in-person hearings at this time, or state and local quarantine orders affecting participants who would need to travel to the hearing locations.”

Those with an in-person hearing or mediation session scheduled through this date will be contacted by FINRA DRS staff to discuss virtual hearing options or reschedule.

Postponing a hearing will not affect other case deadlines, FINRA states.

All case deadlines will continue to apply and must be timely met unless the parties jointly agree otherwise.

FINRA notes that it will also waive postponement fees when parties stipulate to postpone in-person hearing dates scheduled through March 31, 2021.

“To avoid postponement fees, parties must provide written notice of the stipulation to postpone more than 20 days prior to the first scheduled hearing date. Parties stipulating to postpone in-person hearing dates should also consider stipulating to changing other case deadlines.”

“The safety and well-being of parties, arbitrators, witnesses and other participants is of paramount importance,” stated Richard Berry, FINRA executive vice president and director of Dispute Resolution Services.

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