Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Forced Arbitration: Privatized Justice

Forced Arbitration: A Privatization of the Justice System

The New York Times continues its expose on #ForcedArbitration. Over the last 10 years thousands of US businesses have used arbitration to create an alternate system of justice. “There, rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients.”

As the Times notes, “in civil court [consumers can] appeal, raising questions about testimony, destruction of evidence and potential conflicts of interest. But arbitration … often bears little resemblance to court.” For companies, the appeal of arbitration grew after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2011 clearing the way for them to use forced arbitration clauses in agreements with consumers to forbid class-action lawsuits. Prevented from joining together in groups in arbitration, “most plaintiffs gave up entirely.”

Unfettered by strict judicial rules against conflicts of interest, companies can steer cases to friendly arbitrators. In turn, interviews and records show, some arbitrators cultivate close ties with companies to get business.

As the loose arbitration rules provide so much latitude, some businesses are reported to require their employees and customers to bring their disputes to Christian arbitration. “There, the proceedings can incorporate prayer, and arbitrators from firms like the Colorado-based Peacemaker Ministries can consider biblical scripture in determining their rulings.”

Read the full second installment of this groundbreaking Times expose on Forced Arbitration and the frequently devastating erosions it brings to the availability of justice in America.

The American Association for Justice invites consumers to sign the petition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help ensure the CFPB can revoke corporations’ license to steal by stopping the abusive practice of forced arbitration.

You can also learn more about Lieff Cabraser’s work prosecuting cases on behalf of consumers throughout the U.S.