May 6, 2016
Arbitration and the Common Man
Arthur Miller, the playwright who brought us Death of A Salesman, wrote an essay titled Tragedy and The Common Man. It opens,
In this age few tragedies are written. It has often been held that the lack is due to a paucity of heroes among us, or else that modern man has had the blood drawn out of his organs of belief by the skepticism of science, and the heroic attack on life cannot feed on an attitude of reserve and circumspection. For one reason or another, we are often held to be below tragedy-or tragedy above us. The inevitable conclusion is, of course, that the tragic mode is archaic, fit only for the very highly placed, the kings or the kingly, and where this admission is not made in so many words it is most often implied.
When I read the financial services industry’s critique of the CFPB’s proposed rule regarding Arbitration Agreements, it sounds like they believe that litigation, like tragedy “is archaic, fit only for the very highly placed, the kings or the kingly . . .”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has criticized the CFPB for proposing this rule because it will, according to them,
cause significant harm to the very consumers it is supposed to protect. The regulation will effectively eliminate the ability of consumers to use arbitration to seek redress for allegedly improper late fees, overdraft fees, or other small individualized claims that they cannot otherwise resolve with their financial service companies’ customer service departments. A “solution” in search of a problem, the bureau’s rule would replace arbitration — a consumer friendly system that is fast, convenient, and inexpensive — with America’s broken class action system. That’s great for class action plaintiffs’ attorneys but a bad deal for consumers.
It sounds to me like the Chamber believes that the consumer is below litigation-or litigation is above them and should be reserved for the kingly alone.
The fact remains, however, that the Chamber has pushed for mandatory arbitration because it is good for the large corporations who count themselves among its members. And, in fact, the proposed rule would not eliminate the “ability of consumers to use arbitration;” rather, it would prohibit financial services corporations from using arbitration agreements “to bar the consumer from filing or participating in a class action . . .” (Proposed Rule at 1)
You can be sure that the financial services industry will be commenting broadly and deeply on this rule. Those who care about consumer protection from a policy perspective should be sure to put in their two cents too. Comments are due in early August. so get crackin’.| Permalink