Most people take the time to meticulously read through every line of a contract when they are engaged in a consumer transaction. I apologize, did I say “most” people? What I meant to say was “no” people. No consumer reads through every line of a contract because it is long and riddled with legalese. If a person is able to read through a consumer contract, like the one they give you when you buy a new car, without falling asleep then they should give that person some kind of award or at least a discount. I’m an attorney and I have trouble staying awake when required to scan through a consumer contract.

What’s frustrating about this is that everyone knows that no one reads through a consumer contract ¬†including our judicial system,¬†south park even premised one of their episodes on this truth (see; yet judges will punish consumers for their failure to read through a consumer contract. Not just for their failure to read through a consumer contract, but for their failure to grasp the effect of the consumer contract. I speak of the farce that is the arbitration clause located in many contracts consumers sign. If you’re unfamiliar with an arbitration clause what it does is effectively remove a consumer’s right to bring a lawsuit against a company; they must instead try and enforce their rights through a process called “arbitration” that is generally more favorable to corporations then it is to the consumer.

The arbitration clause not only removes a consumer’s right to file a lawsuit against the company, but the way it is written in most contracts is meant to insulate the corporation from potential significant loses. Despite this courts will still enforce arbitration clauses seemingly implying that arbitration clauses are not unfair in their eyes; but there is now a decision coming out of Federal court in which a judge enforced an arbitration clause against his better judgement. Here’s a link to a blog post that explains the judge’s misgivings in forcing the lawsuit to proceed in arbitration. Although it is not an outright victory in the consumer battle against arbitration clauses it is a step in the right direction.