SICA Arbitration Report Released

   

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Updates to 1998 Report Released

The “News & Updates” Section of the NYSE Arbitration WebSite (www.nyse.com/arbitration) displays the Eleventh Report (2001) of the Securities Industry Conference on Arbitration.

SICA periodically releases a Report, which is addressed to the Securities and Exchange Commission, as a way of formally apprising the Commission and the public of its activities. SICA was formed in 1977, so this “Eleventh Report” is not an annual Report.

Dated July 2001, this Report updates developments since 1998, when the Tenth Report was issued. It runs 129 pages, but the narrative section of the Report is an easy read, comprising just the first nine numbered pages. The remainder of the Report contains (1) SICA’s Uniform Code of Arbitration (UCA), after which the various arbitration codes of the SROs are fashioned; (2) two SICA publications, “Arbitration Procedures” and “The Arbitrator’s Manual,” both updated in January 2001 and now in Plain English; and (3) statistical reports of the participating SROS for the year 2000 (see 11 SAC 10, “SICA Chart”).Statistics on mediation at the NASD and the NYSE are incorporated for the first time on p. 129.

The Report explains that, with the “maturing” of its work towards establishing a uniform arbitration system, SICA “has begun to focus on other forms of dispute resolution, specifically mediation.” No uniform rules will be forthcoming in the mediation area; rather, SICA will “work to facilitate and encourage [mediation’s] use.”

Three changes to the UCA have been adopted by SICA since 1998: (1) tolling the time for returning lists of arbitrators when additional information is requested; (2) providing for a second list when the first list of arbitrators does not produce a full Panel; and (3) allowing the Director to remove a sitting arbitrator. (SAC Ed: The Report does not indicate which SROs, if any, have incorporated these changes into their SRO Codes.)

Besides mediation and the revision of its pamphlets, SICA has initiated joint meetings and workshops with industry and plaintiff bar groups, helped in the establishment of law school clinics, and launched a non-SRO Pilot Program in January 2000 to give investors greater choice in selecting arbitral forums. Investors’ failure to use this Pilot, responses to a SICA survey suggest, may be due to: “(1) higher fees for non-SRO forums because these forums are not subsidized by the SROs or the securities industry (approx. 50%); and (2) general degree of comfort with existing and more familiar SRO procedures (approx. 33%).”

Finally, SICA has produced a new UCA that is written in Plain English. The old UCA and the new Plain English version appear side-by-side in the Report. (SAA Ref. No. 01-28-03)


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