Arbitration Lost:

Well, I received word from my father that in the case of Bernstein v. Craig Hassel and H&R Block Financial Advisors, Inc., the arbitration case in which I represented my father, we lost. Not only that, but the arbitrators chose to award $4,500 in costs against him.

[CLARIFICATION: My father misunderstood the ruling. Each party was assessed his own costs. Both Claimaints and Respondents had to pay normal NASD fees.]

I haven't seen the decision yet, and I'm sure I'll have more to say when I do. But two things strike me as very odd about the decision: (a)there was one small claim for $360 which H & R Block conceded at the hearing, and that they truly had no defense to. Regardless of the other claims, I don't see how the arbitrators could have awarded nothing, or for that matter, costs to the other side, given that fact; and (b)our side consistently requested mediation, to save both sides time, money, and aggravation. The other side consistently refused it, obviously (and correctly) thinking that my father couldn't represent himself adequately in an arbitration, and that his claim wasn't large enough to get a securities attorney to represent him(think about that if you are currently or thinking in the future of becoming an H&R Block customer!--more on why you shouldn't be one in the future). How in God's name can you justify awarding costs against a party who consistently sought to be in a different and less expensive forum?

I'll be blogging a bit about the arbitration, partly to get it off my chest, and mostly because I think my experiences have some important public policy ramifications, given that the NASD is a huge forum for litigation at this point.