Federal District Court Enjoins a Hedge Fund and Its Manager from Pursuing FINRA Arbitration Claims against a Broker-Dealer Because They Were Not “Customers” of the Broker-Dealer

On May 17, 2013, a federal district court enjoined a hedge fund and its manager (defendants) from continuing to pursue a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc (FINRA) arbitration against a bank and its affiliated broker-dealer (plaintiffs).  For detailed coverage of the plaintiffs’ complaint in this matter, see “Recent Lawsuit Addresses the Question of When a Hedge Fund Manager Is a Customer of a Broker-Dealer for FINRA Arbitration Purposes,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 6, No. 8 (Feb. 21, 2013).  FINRA Rule 12200 requires FINRA members to arbitrate disputes, in the absence of a written agreement, if requested by “customers.”  The court determined that the defendants were not “customers” of the broker-dealer affiliate, and therefore arbitration was not required.  The decision is likely to curtail the availability of arbitration to hedge funds and their managers seeking to assert claims against certain underwriters of securities.  This article summarizes the factual background of the case and the court’s analysis.  See also “How Hedge Fund Managers Can Use Arbitration Provisions to Prevent Investor Class Action Lawsuits,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 5, No. 26 (Jun. 28, 2012).

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