Here’s a live webcast of the judiciary committee’s hearing on mandatory binding arbitration going on right now. The title of the hearing is “Arbitration: Is it Fair When Forced?” Arbitration clauses appear in all sorts of consumer contracts and they mandate that in order to use the product or service, you have to agree to give up your right to sue if anything goes wrong. Originally designed for businesses to expedite disputes with other businesses, binding arbitration clauses are now also a popular way for companies to strip consumers of their basic legal rights. Since the hearing is chaired by Senator Al Franken, you know there’s bound to be some good zingers. Pop the popcorn and sit back!
Call it “theater of the real.” A debt collection firm is accused of setting up a fake courtroom, complete with a raised “bench” and judge in black and other decorations and furniture, to trick and holding bogus hearings to extract payment from debtors.