More and more individuals are confronting arbitration clauses when they have disputes. Arbitration clauses are contained in almost all credit card agreements, bank or consumer loan contracts, real estate contracts, and investment related contracts. In fact, it is unusual to find a consumer contract with a business that does NOT contain an arbitration clause.
Arbitration clauses require that most, if not all, disputes that "relate to" the consumer activity be arbitrated --in other words they are resolved outside the judicial system. A major factor in arbitration clauses is that a consumer's right to have a jury decide the dispute is abrogated.
Arbitration clauses are contractual agreements. The are usually contained in the contract wording. Sometimes they are clearly pointed out and the waiver of your rights to have a judicial resolution of any any dispute is highlighted. Other times, the arbitration clause is in the "fine print." Either way, courts usually enforce the arbitration agreement. Courts rarely find a reason to declare the arbitration clause void.
Suffice to say, arbitration is a dispute resolution system that is in vogue and will remain a large part of consumer and business contracts for the future.
In later entries, we will discuss the many aspects of arbitration and the good and bad of arbitration.