James H. Frank of Santa Barbara, California may have jeopardized the outcomes of almost forty securities arbitrations, some of which date back to more than fifteen years. According to a FINRA spokeswoman, Frank misrepresented himself as being a lawyer and a member of the bar in a number of states. FINRA removed Frank from its roster of arbitrators last year. Frank vehemently denies these allegations, claiming that they are “inaccurate at best” and that the California bar must have lost his records. Additionally, he is unsure as to why FINRA removed him from their roster of arbitrators .
This debacle raises several concerns moving forward. First, this incident adds fuel to the fire for those who oppose mandatory arbitration. This case will certainly hurt perceptions regarding the fairness of arbitration proceedings. Second, the parties involved in Frank’s cases are unsure as to whether they can overturn some of his decisions in court. Typically, in such instances when a party wants to overturn an arbitration award in federal court, they must make a request within ninety days of receiving the order. As of now, it is unclear whether petitioners will be granted some flexibility on this issue due to the arbitrator’s fraudulent misrepresentations .