Today, the House Judiciary Committee marked up Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-GA) bill, “The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act,” (H.R. 1423) to allow consumers to engage in class action lawsuits. Public Knowledge urges Congress to pass the bill to enable consumers to engage in class action suits which are necessary for effective antitrust enforcement and consumer protection more broadly.
The FAIR Act overturns the Supreme Court’s ruling in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion which upheld the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in small business, consumer product, and service contracts. The use of these mandatory arbitration agreements hurts consumers by negating their rights to join together to fight exploitative business practices.
The following can be attributed to Bertram Lee, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Class action suits are essential to holding corporations accountable for harms they cause, and to make sure they follow the law. Arbitration clauses are typically buried in the fine print of take-it-or-leave-it contracts, where corporations use their unequal bargaining power to take away consumers’ access to justice. The arbitration process itself is often unfair to consumers, disallows class actions entirely, and lacks the protections, transparency and fairness that the judicial process affords.
“Congress must step in to remedy this, and we applaud Rep. Hank Johnson and Sen. Richard Blumenthal for their leadership and for fighting for consumers in this area. Representative Johnson has been a leader on this issue since he first came to Congress in 2007 and we applaud the hard work he and his staff have been doing on this issue for many years.
“We now urge the House to pass the FAIR Act and for the Senate to do the same.”
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