This chapter focuses on the use of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses in a subset of consumer contracts – those involving consumer finance and investor products and services. Arbitration clauses are pervasive in financial contracts – for credit cards, bank accounts, auto loans, broker-dealer services, and many others. In the wake of the recent financial crisis, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank). Dodd-Frank authorises the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to prohibit or condition the use of arbitration clauses in consumer finance and investment contracts, respectively.
This chapter outlines the need for increased regulation over mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses and suggests the need for key reforms. This paper begins by exploring arbitration clauses in consumer finance and investor contracts and then highlights the problems caused by mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses. A full treatment of potential solutions to these problems is beyond the scope of this chapter