Is justice coming back? Maybe, just maybe ...
For years now, dishonest businesses have gradually been sneaking little clauses onto the back of consumer sales contracts and finance contracts, or in small print hidden in credit card bill inserts and other places where you'd least expect it, fine print inteded to keep you from going to court when you get ripped off.
These clauses are called "mandatory binding arbitration" and they take away your legal rights before you even know you needed them. Arbitration is a good idea gone bad, very bad.
The original intent of arbitration was to allow businesses to fight each other out in a private non-court process if they want, but arbitration was never intended to take away the rights of individual consumers. A series of court decisions have moved the law away from its original intent and has given big business the chance to use arbitration to take away the rights of ordinary citizens like you and me. Lots of people have come to realize that Big Business uses arbitration to keep you from protecting yourself.
Courts like these kinds of arbitration clauses because it means they can get rid of lawsuits the easy way, without having to really decide anything at all. It is an easy way out. While some judges take a serious and hard look at the ways arbitration clauses hurt consumers, the simple fact is that federal and state laws make it clear that a court cannot completely ignore an arbitration clause, even when it might be buried away in the fine print of what you sign.
Well now it looks like the tide might be turning.
Senator Feingold (Wisconsin) and Congressman Johnson (Georgia) introduced new legislation to Congress in an attempt to protect consumers from unfair arbitration. The Arbitration Fairness Act of 2007 would ban binding mandatory arbitration clauses from all consumer and employee contracts. It would everyday people the right to go to court when they are ripped off or taken advantage of by a dishonest business. That’s only fair.
Still, Big Business is expected to fight hard to stop the proposed law from ever taking effect. If they succeed, you will be stuck with expensive, time-consuming, difficult and (many think) unfair arbitration processes which are can intimidate and hurt you.
Think about it this way, if a business is being honest with you, then why are they worried about a jury trial? Why do they want a private, secret arbitration process where no one finds out about what they did to you? I think there's only one reason Big Business likes arbitration instead of the court system and it’s because they are afraid of the public finding out the truth about what they are doing.
I don’t think it has anything to do with “cost effectiveness” and nothing to do with “quickly resolving disputes.” It has everything to do with Big Business protecting itself at the expense of your legal rights.
For more information on why arbitration hurts you, click here.
The way to turn this around is to tell your congressperson and your senator that you want them to support the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2007 that Senator Feingold and Congressman Johnson have proposed.
You can get back your legal rights. Congress will actually listen when enough people take the time to be heard.
Click here to take action. This link will take you to an easy–to–fill–in email page where you can send a message to your congressperson that tells them to support this new law.
Tell a friend by clicking here. This link will take you to a page where you can insert up to ten email addresses which tells other people about this important opportunity to protect their rights. We need all the help we can get if we're going to get back our rights.
Take action today. Click here to send an email to your congressperson.
Click here to tell a friend today how important it is that they get back their rights.
Finally, arbitration clauses in consumer contracts may be coming to an end. It’s about time we got our rights back!