Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and U.S. Representative Bill Foster of Illinois introduced the Investor Choice Act earlier this month. The bill would prohibit broker dealers and investment advisors from forcing investors to agree to mandatory arbitration. The bill also prevents brokers dealers and investment advisors from forcing investors to waive the right to bring a class action lawsuit. The Senate’s version of the bill is available here.
The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and Public Investors Advocate Bar Association (PIABA) endorsed the legislation. SEC Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said during his confirmation hearing that investors should be able to chose to go to court to resolve disputes.
Most agreements with individual investors in the financial services industry force customers into arbitration. Many investor advocates want investors to have the option of pursuing claims in court. Arbitration lacks the transparency of court and is sometimes cost prohibitive.