Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Speaking of arbitration

From ContractsProf Blog: There Ought To Be a Law...:

"Arbitration is a creature of contract, and the Contracts course necessarily includes at least a few cases involving arbitration terms. But, pre-dispute arbitration could face its demise in many contexts. Senator Russ Feingold has proposed a bill called the Arbitration Fairness Act, which would invalidate pre-dispute arbitration agreements in employment, consumer and franchise contracts and 'dispute[s] arising under any statute intended to protect civil rights or to regulate contracts or transactions between parties of unequal bargaining power.

The post details the findings of the proposed legislation. This post ends with these two paragraphs:
And, on the heals of this proposal, comes a 74-page report, titled "The Arbitration Trap," by a group called Public Citizen. The report exposes the troubling relationship between certain arbitration providers and the credit card industry, and concludes that pre-dispute arbitration is "a rigged game in which justice is dealt from a deck stacked against consumers."

Nevertheless, the near consensus of predictors is that the bill has no chance of passing (or even getting to the floors of the House or Senate). And, despite numerous academic writings that support these findings and the elimination of pre-dispute arbitration agreements in these contexts, there has been very little popular press coverage of the subject. The most mainstream press I have seen yet is this op-ed piece from Forbes, which, in light of credit card industry practices, encourages the passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act.

Compare this with the earlier post on arbitration, Surprised by mediation statistics.