SECTION 4. ARBITRATION PANEL.
[Effective dates of amendments: November 24, 1982; January 28, 1986; November 9, 1988; July 12, 1989; October 29, 1990; February 18, 1992; May 1, 1994; June 23, 1997; May 1, 2001 and October 1, 2009]
(a) Appointment of Panel.
NFA shall conduct all arbitration proceedings under this Code before an arbitration Panel consisting of the following:
(1) Where the aggregate claim amount does not exceed $100,000, NFA shall appoint one arbitrator. However, if the aggregate amount of the claim exceeds $50,000 but is not more than $100,000, NFA shall appoint three arbitrators if all parties serve a written request on NFA for three arbitrators by no later than 30 days after the last pleading is due or the sole arbitrator asks NFA to appoint two additional arbitrators.
(2) Where the aggregate claim amount exceeds $100,000, NFA shall appoint three arbitrators.
All arbitration Panels shall be appointed by the Secretary and consist of individuals who are NFA Members or individuals connected therewith (one such Member or individual designated as Panel Chairperson). Provided, however, if a customer so requests in a timely filed pleading, the Chairperson and at least one other arbitrator, and the sole arbitrator where there is a single-person Panel, shall not be connected with an NFA Member or NFA (except as NFA arbitrators). For purposes of this section, any individual who performs a significant amount of work on behalf of NFA Members or Associates and any individual who was a Member or Associate or was an employee of a Member within the past three years shall be considered to be connected with an NFA Member.
(b) Disclosures Required.
Prior to being appointed to the Panel, each arbitrator under consideration shall disclose to NFA any circumstances that might prevent the arbitrator from acting impartially.
(c) Appointment of Panel; Disclosure and Challenge.
The Secretary shall thereupon appoint, pursuant to Section 4(a), an arbitration Panel to resolve the dispute. No arbitrator shall have acted as the mediator in the same dispute. NFA shall promptly notify the parties of the names, business affiliations and other information relevant to the classification of the arbitrator as a Member or non-Member panelist. Any objection of a party to such appointment shall be specific and for cause and submitted to NFA in written form. Each party or their representative shall disclose to NFA any circumstances likely to affect an arbitrator's impartiality, including any bias or any financial interest in the result of the arbitration or any past or present relationship with the arbitrator. Any party who fails to disclose such information shall be deemed to have waived any objection to that arbitrator based on such information. Each arbitrator appointed shall disclose to NFA any circumstances likely to affect impartiality, including any bias or any financial interest in the result of the arbitration or any past or present relationship with the parties or their representative. Upon receipt of such information from an arbitrator or other source, NFA shall communicate such information to the parties, and if NFA deems it appropriate to do so, to the Panel and others. Thereafter, NFA shall determine whether the arbitrator should be disqualified and shall inform the parties of the decision, which shall be conclusive.
(d) Arbitrator's Oath.
Before proceeding with the hearing, each arbitrator shall execute an oath whereby the arbitrator promises to faithfully and fairly determine the matter before the Panel.
If an arbitrator becomes ineligible or otherwise unable to serve on the Panel, the Secretary shall (unless the parties request otherwise) appoint a replacement to the Panel. In the event an arbitrator is excused or recuses himself after the commencement of the hearing because a party failed to disclose information which may be grounds for objecting to the arbitrator, the party withholding the information shall be deemed to have waived his right to object to proceeding with the remaining two arbitrators. If a replacement is appointed after the commencement of the hearing, the Panel shall determine whether all or any part of any prior hearing sessions shall be repeated.
(f) Ex Parte Contacts.
No party to the arbitration, or a representative thereof, shall communicate with any Panel member regarding the arbitration, other than inquiries concerning the status thereof, except at the hearing or in writing on notice to the other parties.