For Immediate Release: July 21, 2010
Contact: Jamie Hammon
American Association for Justice
202-965-3500 x8363
AAJ Press Room

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Will Protect Americans from
Abusive Forced Arbitrations

Wall Street reform gives CFPB and SEC power to limit use of one-sided forced arbitration clauses in consumer and investment contracts

Washington, DC—President Obama will take an important step today toward protecting consumers by signing into law the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), under the just-passed Wall Street Reform Act, to help limit the use of abusive forced arbitration clauses in financial contracts.

“The new CFPB will help address the abusive forced arbitration practices used by banks against consumers,” said American Association for Justice President Gibson Vance. “Congress must now pass the Arbitration Fairness Act to ensure these predatory clauses are banned once and for all.”

The new law addresses forced arbitration by:

•    Giving the CFPB power to limit forced arbitration in financial service contracts if the bureau determines, after conducting a study, it is in the best interest of the public and for consumer protection to do so;

•    providing the Securities and Exchange Commission the authority to limit forced arbitration in investment contracts, a practice that has
been found to be grossly unfair to investors; and

•    including a statutory ban on forced arbitration in residential mortgage agreements.

Two other bills have been introduced in Congress to stem the abusive practice of forced arbitration. The bipartisan Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 931 / H.R. 1020), sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), would ensure that the decision to arbitrate is made voluntarily and after a dispute has arisen, so corporations cannot manipulate the arbitration system in their favor at the expense of consumers and employees. The bipartisan Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (S. 512 / H.R. 1237), sponsored by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts.


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