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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority nnounced Wednesday that it has launched a pilot program offering parties in simplified cases pro bono or reduced-fee telephone mediation.

Participation in the pilot program, which began this week, is voluntary and open to cases involving claims of $50,000 or less, FINRA said.

“Telephone mediation is a lower-cost alternative, and would benefit dispute resolution forum users in many ways,” said Linda Fienberg, president of FINRA Dispute Resolution, in a statement. “Besides eliminating the travel and preparation costs typically associated with in-person mediation, telephonic mediation offers greater convenience and flexibility, and is a practical alternative for all parties involved.”

Parties interested in participating in the pilot can notify FINRA by visiting www.finra.org/arbitrationmediation/smallclaims. Also, FINRA says staff will notify eligible parties about the pilot program.

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