Mr. President, if you are truly interested in the well-being of ordinary, decent people, I urge you to consider the destructive effect that consumer arbitration has on them.
One of America?s greatest institutions is its system of justice, and among our most fundamental individual rights is the access to, and use of, legitimate courts. Yet the door to our courts is barred to a huge number of unsuspecting individuals every day due to arbitration clauses they may not even be aware of.
The law should not lightly sanction waiver of a right so fundamental as that of access to the courts. The current blind adherence to arbitration clauses even when entered into unknowingly, unwillingly, or both, is destroying the faith of many in America?s justice system. Arbitration was conceived to facilitate business-to-business disputes by willing and sophisticated parties. Forcing it on individual consumers in disputes against a business is perverse. Arbitration has little oversight to ensure fairness or lack of bias in what are often David and Goliath battles, no meaningful rules, no meaningful appeal, and not even a means of subpoena enforcement. Can such a system be called legitimate?
Worse, because there is no record or precedent, and participants are often bound by secrecy, the public is denied valuable information about businesses that are dishonest. The entire system operates to shield wrongdoing. As a result, consumer fraud may be the most valuable trade secret employed by many businesses today.
It would be a wonderful thing indeed for ordinary people if your administration would address this problem.
Betty Stovall (Kit) Clark
Law Offices of Betty Stovall (Kit) Clark
2620-DSouth Shepherd, Suite 622
Houston, Texas 77098