NYT Going Deep On Arbitration Issue

Image from NYT report, 11/1/15.

Image from NYT report, 11/1/15.

The New York Times continues its milestone series on arbitration this week and continues to set the stage for serious reform, especially in California where the practice is widespread across many industries. In particular, the series focuses on how arbitration clauses can remove disputes from courts into private practices.

The paper says that those practices “…often bears little resemblance to court… Over the last 10 years, thousands of businesses across the country — from big corporations to storefront shops — 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 There, rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients, The Times found.”

This is the kind of series that nearly always brings a call to action, so stay tuned. Check in on the series here.

Arbitration At Issue In Key California High Court Cases

The nation’s largest state is being watched closely as it tackles on of the largest class-action issues: arbitration. In recent years, large companies have been able to shield themselves from a variety of lawsuits by having customers and vendors agree to settle differences outside the courts, which are seen as being much more favorable to plaintiffs.
 
Now the Recorder offers an excellent overview of the issue nationally and notes that “… in California, plaintiffs lawyers find a measure of hope in the push and pull between the pro-arbitration U.S. Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court, which takes a more skeptical view. Earlier this month the state Supreme Court agreed to review in McGill v. Citibank whether consumers seeking injunctive relief under California law can be forced into arbitration. In May the justices will hear arguments in Sanchez v. Valencia Holding, and potentially lay out new grounds by which courts can reject unfair or one-sided arbitration agreements.”

Report: ‘Sad State’ Of Courts Will Boost Arbitration

While noting that non-court arbitration has often been seen as anti-consumer, a report in the member-run news organization Voice of San Diego lays out a good argument that ongoing court cuts will boost the practice. It also cites a recent study noting that formerly routine business collection practices can take up to a year, making it difficult to do business in counties hard-hit by court delays.
 
“Historically, we have seen that people who want to tilt the playing field in their favor will use delay in the trial courts as a justification for that,” one official told the website. “It has less resonance where cases get to trial efficiently and quickly as they had up until this latest round of five years of budget cuts.”
 
We have already heard that justice system administrators are urging a “settle the case” approach to ease strain on the diminished system, and certainly arbitration is part of that rationing strategy. This is a good, balanced look at how that’s starting to play out: Read Here