How does the arbitration process work?+
The arbitration process usually begins with a preliminary meeting, often conducted by phone by the arbitration organization, where you and your firm can go over the disputed issues, discuss any documents and possible witnesses, set a timeline and of course choose the arbitrator.
Once an arbitrator is chosen by the two sides, there may be more exchanges of information, and then the date of the arbitration itself will be set. The arbitration can take place in person, by phone or video conference. You and your firm may also decide to present your claims and arguments in writing only.
Unless both sides have chosen to present their claims and arguments in writing only, at the arbitration itself, the arbitrator may ask you to lay out your complaint and the issues, and will ask the other side to do the same. The arbitrator may also ask either side questions based on what has been presented. They will then consider all evidence and testimony, and make a legally binding decision.
In some cases, an arbitrator may even help both sides come to an agreement, or settlement, before a decision in your arbitration claim is reached.
What kind of cases are usually dealt with through arbitration?+
The arbitration process can be used in cases where you feel you’ve suffered a financial loss because your investment advisor or firm acted improperly.
Remember, the first step in seeking compensation is to make a written complaint directly to your investment advisor and their firm. Under IIROC’s rules, they must provide you with a substantive response to your complaint within 90 days.
If you are not satisfied with their response, you can choose from a
number of options, including arbitration.
Is there a cost to arbitration?+
Yes, there is a cost to arbitration, but arbitration is usually a quicker and less expensive than going to court, which can be both a very long and expensive process.
Arbitration fees typically include
- a filing fee
- arbitrator’s hourly fees and travel costs
- hearing room fees
- videoconferencing fees and
- other administrative fees.
These costs are usually split between both sides.
You can also decide ahead of time if you want the arbitrator to award costs, in which case the losing side pays the other side’s legal costs.
There is also the cost of a lawyer or paralegal, however you can choose to represent yourself. It is important to know, however, that firms are always represented by lawyers.
You may be required to pay a deposit as an advance of arbitration costs at the commencement of and during your arbitration proceeding. At the end of arbitration, you will receive back any unexpended balance. For more information and an estimate on costs of the arbitration process, you can contact one of the two organizations designated by IIROC to conduct arbitrations:
Is there any free legal assistance available if I cannot afford a lawyer to represent me in arbitration?+
Yes, you may contact one of the Investor Protection Clinics based at these law schools:
How much money can I get back through arbitration?+
Through the IIROC Arbitration Program, arbitrators can award up to $500,000, but no more. And under IIROC rules, your firm must comply with the arbitrator’s decision.
What if my investment firm doesn’t want to take part in arbitration?+
It is up to you to decide whether to take your complaint to arbitration. If you choose arbitration, under IIROC rules your firm is obliged take part. They must also comply with the arbitrator’s decision.
Will my investment advisor participate in arbitration?+
Only IIROC regulated firms can participate in arbitration. Individual advisors cannot be named in a claim. They may nonetheless participate in the process on behalf of the firm.
What role does IIROC play in arbitration?+
IIROC rules state that if you choose arbitration to settle the dispute, your firm must take part and must comply with the arbitrator’s eventual decision. IIROC oversees the operation of the arbitration process and publishes
statistics. IIROC itself doesn’t conduct the arbitration. Instead, it has designated two independent organizations that conduct the arbitrations and supply independent arbitrators:
You can contact either one to learn more about the arbitration process. You can contact IIROC’s Complaints and Inquiries team (1-877-442-4322 or
[email protected]) for more information.
If I choose arbitration, is it up to me to call one of the firms that conduct arbitration, or does IIROC do that for me?+
Once you have chosen to settle your complaint through arbitration, it is up to you to contact one of the two organizations designated by IIROC to conduct arbitrations.
If you have questions about how to proceed however, you can contact IIROC’s Complaints and Inquiries team (1-877-442-4322 or
How long does arbitration take?+
Timelines for arbitration may vary depending on complexity of your claim. But it is usually a much quicker and less expensive option than going to court, which can be a very long process.
Is there a time limit in deciding to pursue arbitration?+
Yes. There may be legal time limits beyond which you could lose the right to pursue some or all of your claims. You may consult a statute of limitations in your province and a lawyer to determine the time limits that apply to you case.
What documents would I need for arbitration?+
You should consult your legal representative if you choose to be represented by a lawyer or paralegal. If you choose to represent yourself, you should prepare all documentation that you believe shows that your investment advisor or firm acted improperly. Common documents exchanged by the parties may include, for example, your account agreements and other account opening documents, KYC (or Know Your Client) forms, account statements, notes and records of conversations, emails and other correspondence showing client instructions and confirmations received from the investment advisor. An arbitrator may help you determine what documents need to be produced and may even order a party to produce relevant documents.
For more information on how the arbitration process works and what you may need, you can contact one of the two organizations designated by IIROC to conduct arbitrations:
You can also contact IIROC’s Complaints and Inquiries team for more general information (1-877-442-4322 or
Can I call witnesses and an expert during an arbitration?+
Yes. Like in court, you can call witnesses as well as an expert to present your case. To prove your case, you can ask questions and take your witnesses to any documents you have to present your case. Given the specialized expertise of a chosen arbitrator, you should assess whether you need an expert as it will most likely increase your costs.
Unless both sides have chosen to present their claims and arguments in writing only, at the arbitration itself, the arbitrator will ask you to lay out your case, will listen to both sides and may ask either side questions. They will then consider all evidence and testimony and then make a legally binding decision.
Where will my arbitration hearing be conducted?+
If you decide to proceed in-person, your arbitration hearing will proceed in the province of your residence. With consent of both sides and the arbitrator, your hearing may also proceed by videoconference or in writing.
Is the arbitration process public?+
No. Unless both sides agree otherwise, in arbitration, all hearings, meetings, and communications, including the arbitrator’s final decision, are usually confidential between the parties involved and the arbitrator.