My friend, Lisa Renee Pomerantz, a New York lawyer and neutral, wrote an article on consumer arbitration in ACResolution that you might want to check out. It chronicles a history of efforts to regulate and improve consumer arbitration, leading up to the recent study and proposed rules issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It distinguishes various options including barring pre-dispute arbitration agreements, barring waivers of class actions, and other provisions affecting consumers.
I know that this is an important and controversial topic but I get a severe case of MEGO when thinking about arbitration issues. Just the mention of arbitration rules or Supreme Court rationalizations, I mean arbitration jurisprudence, can practically put me in a coma. Fortunately, we have an impressive cadre of bloggers and readers who have no such affliction and may want to comment one way or another on Lisa’s article.
I note that there is a session at the ABA DR Section conference on this topic on Thursday morning, April 7 at 9 am, which looks fantastic:
Consumer Arbitration/Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Hot Topic Program
The CFPB recently announced its tentative proposals to 1) bar class action waivers in mandatory pre-dispute consumer arbitration clauses in contracts for financial services and products and 2) require reporting regarding arbitration filings and awards and potentially make such information public. The Section subsequently established the CFPB Review Task Force. At this session, some of the Task Force members will provide an overview of the CFPB’s tentative proposals and their status. They will also provide an overview of the deliberations and recommendations of the Task Force. Then, with the help of Parisa Parsa from the Public Conversations Project, Task Force members will reflect on these issues as individuals and from a “within-the-family” “dispute resolution” perspective rather than an “advocacy/debate” perspective, including discussing: what they think that members of our field/Section need to understand; whether and why they think these issues are important ones for our field/Section; whether and why they think that members of our field/Section find it difficult to discuss these issues; and what they think can/could be done to make the discussion less difficult–and even productive.
This session has an outstanding set of panelists: Nancy Welsh, Lisa Blomgren Amsler, Bruce Meyerson, Homer LaRue, Jean R. Sternlight, Louis Burke, F. Peter Phillips, and Parisa Parsa.
I plan to attend and bring my bottle of no-doz, though I probably won’t need it. Although I am not particularly interested in arbitration, I am intrigued about the process of trying to develop consensus about DR policy, starting within our Section. This issue has bedeviled our field for many years despite some serious efforts to build consensus. So I am curious to hear about this latest iteration and what we might learn from the process.