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Recent Federal and California Law Developments re Mandatory Arbitration

Friday, June 23, 2017

  • Linda Kilb
  • DREDF

In recent years, federal case law upholding mandatory arbitration clauses has made it increasingly difficult for individuals to have their day in court in a range of different cases. These include, for example, employment cases and consumer cases with clear relevance for California legal services-eligible clients.

There are various resources available discussing this federal authority, as well as its implications. The Alliance for Justice (AFJ) provides one such resource, at http://www.afj.org/category/forced-arbitration. The AFJ postings include their 2013 report "Arbitration Activism: How the Corporate Court Helps Businesses Evade our Civil Justice System." http://www.afj.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Arbitration-Activism-Report-12162013.pdf. The Report provides discussion of key U.S. Supreme Court authority involving arbitration clauses.

Here in California, there have also been relevant recent judicial and legislative developments. In general, these state developments have been more protective of individual rights than their federal counterparts. In April 2017, the California Supreme Court decided McGill v. Citibank (Apr. 6, 2017) 2 Cal. 5th 945. The Slip Opinion for the case, which is S224086, is available at http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S224086.PDF.

The California Legislature is currently considering SB 33 - Arbitration Agreements (2017-2018). Information about SB 33 is available at
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB33

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