CSDR-LL.M. E-newsletter Archives

Vol. 1, Issue 21 - February 23, 2001

What's Inside:

CSDR / LL.M. PROGRAM NEWS

MEETING ON MONDAY, FEB. 19, 2:30 TO DISCUSS HONOR CODE PROCEDURE AND LL.M. CURRICULUM
LL.M. students are invited to attend a meeting on Monday, February 19 in Room 109 to discuss the Honor Code procedure and curriculum. Refreshments will be served.

VISIT BY PROFESSOR JAMES ALFINI ON FRIDAY, APRIL 13
Prof. James Alfini will visit the LL.M. Program on April 13 as part of a regular American Bar Association review of the Program. He would like to meet with LL.M. students and we have set aside an hour from 10 to 11 AM for this purpose. The meeting will be in Room 208. Alfini is the former chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution and former dean of the Northern Illinois University School of Law. He is a good person to know and students will probably enjoy meeting him very much. Please mark your calendars to meet with him if you can.

LAW SCHOOL / UNIVERSITY NEWS

TRIAL FOR AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE CATALOG
The MU Libraries are participating in a trial for the American Film Institute Catalog. You can access this resource from the Database Trials page at web.missouri.edu/~elliswww/ejtrial.html. The trial runs until March 15th.

CONFERENCES / RESOURCES / CONTESTS

THE SECOND BIENNIAL HEARTLAND MEDIATORS CONFERENCE
The Nebraska Mediation Center Association and the Nebraska Office of Dispute Resolution announce the Second Biennial Heartland Mediators Conference: "2001: A Peace Odyssey -- Taking Root Branching Out Growing Together," April 5-7, 2001; Arbor Day Farm, Lied Conference Center; Nebraska City, Nebraska. The conference will include: workshops, panels, nationally recognized speakers, professional development, seminars, social events, and advanced training. There is a brochure detailing the conference, as well as a registration form in the binder on Laura Coleman's desk in room 206.

PROGRAM ON EMPLOYMENT LAW AND MEDIATOR SKILLS TRAINING FOR ADR NEUTRALS
The Center for Labor and Employment Law at NYU School of Law is offering a week-long "Program on Employment Law and Mediator Skills Training for ADR Neutrals," on June 18-22, 2001, at the Law School's Lipton Hall, 108 West Third St., New York City. This program is designed for employment lawyers and human resources practitioners who may be interested in broadening their career opportunities to include service as ADR neutrals in employment disputes. Partners in this program include some of the leading mediator provider organizations in the country: ADR Associates, American Arbitration Association, CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, JAMS, NASD Dispute Resolution, New York Stock Exchange. For more information regarding agenda and registration, please see the binder on Laura Coleman's desk in room 206.

FORDHAM UNIVERSITY, FORDHAM INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL SEEKS SUBMISSIONS
The Fordham International Law Journal in conjunction with the American Arbitration Association (AAA) are in the process of completing the 2001 edition of ADR & the Law, covering developments in both domestic and international alternative dispute resolution. They are soliciting articles for publication on the ADR topic of your choice. The Journal provides professionals and scholars leeway regarding the length and format of these submissions. Submissions may range from transcriptions of speeches, to a short commentary of five pages, to full articles. This would be a great opportunity to have an article published. For more information, please see the binder on Laura Coleman's desk in room 206.

ADR CYBERWEEK 2001
The Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution is sponsoring ADR Cyberweek 2001, an all-online, free, five-day exploration of dispute resolution, technology, and the online environment that will be held from February 26 to March 2, 2001. You can participate from anywhere at any time, and engage in discussions, simulations, demonstrations, and a variety of other interactive opportunities involving dispute resolution, the Internet and the World Wide Web. A year ago, in February 2000, over 750 persons from many different countries participated in ADR Cyberweek 2000. In the past year, as e-commerce has grown, and as many thousands of disputes have been resolved online, online dispute resolution (ODR) has become a much-discussed subject. You can register for Cyberweek 2000 at www.umass.edu/cyber. For more information, e-mail Alan Gaitenby at gaitenby@disputes.net

JOB/FELLOWSHIP ANNOUNCEMENTS

UNITED NATIONS LEGAL OFFICER
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations invites qualified applicants for the Legal Officer position. The Legal Officer will need to have an advanced university degree in law. A minimum of 6 years progressive professional experience with some experience in an international organization. Field and previous peacekeeping mission experience will be a significant advantage. Fluent English is required with a knowledge of Arabic as an asset. For more information, see www.un.org/Depts/dpko/field/kom01001.htm

SPECIAL ARTICLE

The following article published by ADRWorld.com quotes our own Prof. Jean Sternlight.

Bill Would Bar Pre-Dispute Arbitration Clauses in Credit Contracts February 5, 2001 By Justin Kelly, ADRWorld.com

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has introduced legislation that would amend the Federal Arbitration Act to discourage the use of pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements in consumer credit contracts.

Feingold offered the bill, S. 192, the Consumer Credit Fair Dispute Resolution Act of 2001, Jan. 25 and it is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation would make mandatory arbitration agreements unenforceable under the FAA unless they were entered into post-dispute, and it would apply to any consumer credit transaction. In a statement, Feingold said the bill would "protect and preserve the right of American consumers to take disputes with credit card companies to court" in light of the increasing prevalence of consumer credit lending companies requiring arbitration as a condition of accepting the contract.

Feingold said that credit card companies are making amendments to contracts requiring arbitration and informing consumers of the change in bill stuffers as part of their monthly statement. He said the process used by the credit card companies is "increasingly slamming the courthouse doors shut on consumers, and often the consumers don't even know it." He added that while he supports the use of voluntary arbitration for resolving disputes this bill could "restore the fairness to the resolution of consumer credit disputes."

The bill would provide that "a written provision in any consumer credit contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of the contract, or the refusal to perform the whole or any part thereof, shall not be valid or enforceable." However, the legislation says nothing in the bill "shall prohibit the enforcement of any written agreement to settle by arbitration a controversy arising out of a consumer credit contract, if such written agreement has been entered into by the parties to the consumer credit contract after the controversy has arisen."

Feingold introduced similar legislation as an amendment to a Senate bankruptcy reform bill during the last congressional session, but he withdrew his amendment after Judiciary Committee member Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) agreed to hold hearings on the issue of mandatory arbitration in consumer credit contracts.

Consumer Advocates Voice Support

Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch, said his organization "is in favor of the bill" and sees the use of mandatory arbitration as an "increasing problem for consumers." Arbitration in the consumer credit context creates an "uneven playing field" and could "create a private judicial system where the process is titled heavily in favor of the company."

Clemente said "more legislation" is needed to curtail the use of pre-dispute mandatory arbitration, adding that the House's passage of legislation last year barring mandatory arbitration between car dealers and car manufacturers "increased the awareness" of the issue among legislators. Mandatory arbitration is now seen as a significant issue by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Congress Watch "hopes to get hearings on the issue" this year, he added.

But Ed Anderson, executive director of the National Arbitration Forum, said the bill "is a mistake and fails to acknowledge that the courts are inaccessible for large numbers of Americans." Anderson said arbitration "provides consumers access to redress that would not otherwise be available," citing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's opinion that arbitration can provide consumers with the necessary redress for consumer credit disputes.

Anderson added that arbitration "is a valid answer to class action" lawsuits for consumers because arbitration uses a "loser pays system" that allows parties to get awards individually and recover their legal and administrative fees if they win. Arbitration also allows consumers to bring causes for "relatively small amounts" of money, he said.

Jean Sternlight, professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, said however that the legislation is important because federal lawmakers need to address the FAA's preemption of state laws that seek to bar mandatory arbitration in consumer credit contracts. According to Sternlight, it can be "hard to get legal representation in an arbitration because attorney's fees could be higher than the value of the dispute," and the potential for "steep filing fees in arbitration, limits on awards and class actions" prevent consumers from fully vindicating their rights.

Copyright 1999-2000 ADRWorld.com L.L.C. Reprinted with permission.