NY Times: “Arbitration” = Secretive and Unfair

by F. Peter Phillips
December 2016

Business Conflict Blog by Peter Phillips

F. Peter  Phillips

On the front page of today’s New York Times there appears an article reporting on a legal argument that is purportedly being advanced by Wells Fargo in response to claims brought on behalf of thousands of customers in whose name, and without whose knowledge, over 2,000,000 “sham” accounts were established.

The bank is reported to be arguing that the accounts that the customers did not authorize contained agreements that the customers did not see, containing provisions that the customers did not understand, pursuant to which judicial class actions were barred.  These provisions — drafted by the bank — apparently also unilaterally decreed that customers seeking redress were required to avail themselves of private arbitration as their exclusive method of redress.  The bank wants these provisions enforced and the judicial claims dismissed in favor of thousands of individual arbitrations.

In the fourth graf of this article, “arbitration” is defined as “a secretive legal process that often favors corporations.”

Will someone who gives a damn about dispute resolution in this country please take care of this?  I don’t mean teaching the Times reporters what arbitration is.  I mean unilaterally promulgating provisions in consumer contracts that are secretive and often favor corporations.

Biography


F. Peter Phillips is a commercial arbitrator and mediator with substantial experience providing consultation on the management of business disputes to companies around the globe.

A cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and a magna cum laude graduate of New York Law School, Mr. Phillips served for nearly ten years as Senior Vice President of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR Institute). During that time, he earned a reputation as an author, teacher, industry liaison, and systems designer for the avoidance, management and resolution of complex and sophisticated business conflicts.

In 2008, Mr. Phillips formed Business Conflict Management LLC (BCM) in order to offer his direct services as a neutral and a consultant. Through BCM, Mr. Phillips also continues his career as a highly sought-after public speaker, facilitator and instructor.



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