Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1411283
 
 

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'Volunteering' to Arbitrate Through Pre-Dispute Arbitration Clauses: The Average Consumer’s Experience


Linda Demaine


Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Deborah R. Hensler


Stanford Law School

2004

Law & Contemporary Problems, Vol. 67, No. 55, 2004

Abstract:     
Over the past several decades, the profile of arbitration has changed dramatically. Arbitration is no longer the province of sophisticated participants. Consumers who enter into contracts that substitute binding arbitration for the public court system may be required to arbitrate disputes that arise in the course of their relationships with service or product providers. The merits of this consumer arbitration jurisprudence have been debated heatedly by members of the judiciary, legal commentators, commercial interests, and public advocacy groups. Perhaps most central to the debate are concerns that consumers do not fully understand the terms of these agreements, and that, even if they did, they cannot negotiate those terms, which are offered on a "take-it-or-leave-it" basis. In accordance with the current arbitration jurisprudence, however, consumers are bound by the terms of these contracts unless their terms are deemed unconscionable or otherwise faulty under general principles of contract law.

The purpose of this Article is to help build the empirical foundation necessary for an informed debate regarding arbitration clauses in consumer contracts by providing preliminary insight into how businesses' use of these clauses affects consumers' ability to pursue their legal rights. To this end, the Article reports the results of a study investigating, in a wide variety of consumer purchases, the frequency with which the average consumer encounters arbitration clauses, the key provisions of these clauses, and the implications of these clauses for consumers who subsequently have disputes with the businesses they patronize.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: consumer contracts, arbitration clause, dispute resolution

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Date posted: May 29, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Demaine, Linda and Hensler, Deborah R., 'Volunteering' to Arbitrate Through Pre-Dispute Arbitration Clauses: The Average Consumer’s Experience (2004). Law & Contemporary Problems, Vol. 67, No. 55, 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1411283

Contact Information

Linda Demaine (Contact Author)
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )
Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
Deborah R. Hensler
Stanford Law School ( email )
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
(650) 723-0146 (Phone)
(650) 723-8230 (Fax)
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