Nov 15, 2007
Richard Alderman, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center has recently published The Future of Consumer Law in the United States – Hello Arbitration, Bye-Bye Courts, So-Long Consumer Protection
Arbitration of consumer disputes has become the norm rather than the exception. Although attempts to dispute the enforceability of arbitration are occasionally successful, it is clear that until Congress takes action the use arbitration will become more and more widespread. It is possible that all consumer disputes may soon be “privatized” and removed from our judicial system. Many have written about the ills of arbitration and the legal basis for attacking arbitration clauses. This article does not attempt to review all of that literature. Instead, it suggests that arbitration of consumer disputes must be prohibited for one simple reason – our system of government needs the judicial branch and in the consumer arena it is slowly disappearing. The vanishing jury trial is a “hot topic” generally, but when it comes to consumer disputes the vanishing jury trial, accompanied by the disappearing appellate decision, threatens to undermine our system of regulating the consumer market place. The article concludes that enactment of the recently proposed Arbitration Fairness Act is the only way to reverse this trend and let our courts play the role their proper role.
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