By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant
FINRA Dispute Resolution recently updated their arbitration and mediation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to provide guidance on the confidentiality of arbitration proceedings. Previously the FAQ answering whether arbitration proceedings are a matter of public record simply stated that prior to the issuance of an award, information about a case is considered confidential, but FINRA awards are public and available online.
FINRA updated this FAQ to state that FINRA staff and arbitrators are ethically obligated to keep information obtained in arbitration confidential, and statements of claims or pleadings filed are not made available to the public. However, parties and their counsel are free to disclose details of their own proceeding as they see fit.
In addition, FINRA noted that in the discovery process, if a party objects to a document product on the grounds of privacy or confidentiality, “the arbitrators or one of the parties may suggest a stipulation between the parties that the documents in question will not be disclosed or used in any manner outside of the arbitration of the particular case, or the arbitrators may issue a confidentiality order.” Arbitrators may ask the parties to provide briefs on any confidentiality issues that arise.
These revisions are intended to clarify the confidentiality requirements in place for FINRA staff and arbitrators during arbitration or mediation of claims before FINRA.