Adminization: Gatekeeping Consumer Contracts

58 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2017 Last revised: 23 Nov 2020

See all articles by Yonathan A. Arbel

Yonathan A. Arbel

University of Alabama - School of Law

Date Written: August 8, 2017


Large companies and debt collectors frequently file unmeritorious claims against consumers. Recent high-profile actions brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) against J.P. Morgan, Citibank, and large debt collectors illustrate the breadth and importance of this phenomenon. Due to the limited financial power of individuals, consumers often do not defend against such baseless claims, which results in the entry of millions of default judgments every year. To combat this problem, policymakers and scholars have explored a variety of court-based solutions that would make it easier for consumers to defend in court, but these prove ineffectual.

To solve the problem of unmeritorious claiming, this Article proposes a budget-friendly solution called “Adminization.” This novel approach uses an administrative agency as a gatekeeper to civil litigation that is tasked with detecting and sanctioning the filing of baseless claims. The agency samples cases, using statistical methods and potentially deep-learning algorithms, and then investigates selected cases using agency auditors. When the auditors find wrongdoing, they are instructed to levy large fines against wrongdoers. Unlike the current system, Adminization subjects every plaintiff to the risk of thorough investigation and large fines, thus undercutting the financial incentive to engage in wrongful behavior. The importance of Adminization lies in its cost-effectiveness, practicality, and political feasibility relative to the court-based approaches that dominate the discussion today.

Keywords: Contracts, Consumer Law, Debt Collection, Artificial Intelligence, Ex-Ante Review, Audits in Litigation

Suggested Citation

Arbel, Yonathan A., Adminization: Gatekeeping Consumer Contracts (August 8, 2017). 71 Vanderbilt Law Review 121, 2018, U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3015569, Available at SSRN:

Yonathan A. Arbel (Contact Author)

University of Alabama - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

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