FINRA has released its statistics through November 2013. Surprise! The results are not statistically different. You can see the table here. You have to go all the way to the bottom. FINRA buries this comparison there.
In November of last year I commented that the stats looked like they were coming together. And they are. Even worse, though, is that the mixed panel result is one percentage point higher. While it is not statistically significant, in my opinion, it is telling. Through November, the “win” rate for customers is 43% with an all-public panel versus 44% with a mixed panel. Big deal. So we went through this whole rule rewrite just to prove what?
Even more interestingly, the win rates from 2011 through 2013 with all-public panels are steadily declining while the win rates from mixed panels are increasing. What does this mean? It means that, for all the handwringing from devout customers’ lawyers about the “stacked deck” it appears that the deck is not so stacked. At least not in 2013. Where is the clarion call to ban all-public panels? That silence you hear is deafening.
My guess is that these same people who were touting all-public panels as the cure will now claim that the arbitration process is flawed and we should do away with it altogether. There are some in Congress (who have nothing better to worry about, like balancing the budget or funding the cure for cancer) who have started the same handwringing. Just wait until they abolish arbitration for customers and those customers can’t find a lawyer to take their $25,000 case. Then what?
Do I sound cynical? I am. There’s a few miles on my odometer and I feel like I have heard this tale of woe for too long. Leave arbitration alone. Go fix something that’s broken, like Congress.
That’s the New Year’s view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. I’m Marc Dobin.