How Do I Prepare For A Hearing?

Parties must make every effort to prepare the case in advance of the hearing so that it may be resolved promptly and justly. Preparation includes arranging for witnesses and to be available for presentation to the arbitrators at the hearing.

The parties shall, at least 20 calendar days prior to the first scheduled hearing date, serve on each other copies of documents (including graphs, charts, and recordings) they intend to present at the hearing and identify witnesses they intend to present at the hearing. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the arbitrators excluding any document not exchanged or witnesses not identified. Arbitrators will consider such action at the request of a party. If all parties agree, they may submit exhibits in addition to those in the Statement of Claim to the Director of Arbitration for forwarding to the arbitrators prior to the hearing.

Each party is to bring sufficient copies of any documents it intends to introduce as evidence at the hearings for each arbitrator and for the files of the SRO.

The parties should cooperate in the voluntary exchange of documents and information to expedite the arbitration. Any request for documents or other information should be specific, relate to the matter in controversy, and afford the party to whom the request is made a reasonable period of time to respond without interfering with the time set for the hearing. Document production and information exchange is to be accomplished within the time set forth in the Uniform Code.

A prehearing conference will be scheduled early in the process. The Director of Arbitration will set the time and place of a prehearing conference and appoint either a staff person or an arbitrator to preside. The prehearing conference may be held by telephone, by written submission, or in person. Under the rules, there are time tables for parties either to produce requested information or to object to the production requests. If a prehearing conference without an arbitrator does not resolve the outstanding issues, those information-request disputes or issues will be referred to a single arbitrator prior to the first hearing. Where possible, each party should submit to the SRO in advance of the prehearing conference a concise outline of the outstanding issues to be resolved by the single arbitrator. The single arbitrator has the authority to issue subpoenas, direct appearances of witnesses and production of documents, set deadlines for compliance, and issue other rulings that would expedite the arbitration proceedings or enable a party to prepare its case.

To the extent possible, testimony and documentary evidence should be exchanged voluntarily by the parties without the use of subpoenas. If a subpoena is necessary, the arbitrators and any counsel of record have such power of subpoena as may be provided by the law of the state where the hearing will be held. All parties must be given a copy of the subpoena on its issuance. If a party has an attorney, the attorney should answer all questions concerning subpoenas. Parties without attorneys may request that the Director of Arbitration ask the arbitrators to issue a subpoena. The request should be in writing, should set forth why the subpoena is necessary and what efforts the requesting party made to obtain the as and the production of documents without the use of the subpoena, and should include a copy of the subpoena which the arbitrators are requested to issue. If the arbitrators issue a subpoena, the requesting party has the obligation of serving the subpoena on the opposing party and bearing the costs involved as provided by law of the state where the hearing will be held or by federal law. The requesting party may need to employ the services of a professional process server to actually serve the subpoena.

The procedures for the issuance and service of subpoenas vary. Parties may, therefore, wish to consult with an attorney to insure that legal requirements in the applicable jurisdiction are satisfied.

In addition to the subpoena process, in some instances the arbitrators have the power to direct the appearance of persons employed in the securities industry and the production of records in the possession or control of such persons. If the parties request the arbitrators to use this power, they may be required to bear all reasonable expenses in connection with such appearance or production. All such requests should be made in advance of the hearing.

One final thought should be kept in mind when preparing for a hearing. The arbitrators are experienced and knowledgeable individuals. They appreciate a clear presentation of the case, free from repetition and irrelevancies.

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