Once you’ve hired an experienced investment fraud law firm to pursue your investment misconduct claim, your case will proceed through various stages of the legal process, beginning with the formal filing of your claims with the Financial Industry Regulatory Association (FINRA), and ultimately ending with a final arbitration hearing where the lawyers present their evidence and legal arguments on behalf of their clients to the arbitrators who will decide your case.
In many cases, at a point when the lawyers have obtained the documents and evidence necessary to build and present your case, they may consider whether your claims can be resolved, or settled, prior to the final arbitration hearing. In our law practice, we have found great success in resolving many of our clients’ claims through a process called “mediation.”
Mediation is a voluntary process that takes place on a parallel track with your pending FINRA arbitration case. In mediation, the parties agree to work with a professional third party mediator who is neutral. This means the mediator does not work for either the investor or the brokerage firm. Instead, the mediator’s job is to work with both sides in an effort to try to settle the case.
If done properly, mediation offers you a degree of control and predictability. At mediation, the parties are active participants and have real power in working towards an acceptable outcome. On the other hand, at the final hearing, all parties will be subjected to cross-examination, and the panel of three arbitrators will make a decision that is binding on all parties and impossible to predict.
Mediations typically take a full day and are held at a law office or a mutually agreed upon location. Sometimes mediations start with a joint session during which time the mediator explains the process and the parties may highlight some of the key arguments supporting their positions.
Following the joint session, the parties usually move to separate caucuses. The mediator will spend time separately with both sides talking about the strengths and weaknesses of their evidence and their legal positions. Throughout the day, the mediator will work between the parties and exchange messages—offers, counter offers, questions, demands, and proposals—between both sides to help the parties move closer to resolution. Importantly, all communications with the mediator are confidential, and the mediator may not share any information that they have learned from you with the other side without your permission.
The mediator has no authority to decide the settlement or even compel the parties to settle. Mediation is non-binding and completely voluntary. If the mediation is a success and the case settles, the final hearing is cancelled and the settlement is consummated within a few weeks. If the case does not settle, then the investor’s case proceeds to a final hearing with the arbitrators.
Mediation can be a very effective way for parties to resolve complex investor disputes. If you have questions about the mediation process, please give us a call today.