Pre-Dispute Consumer Arbitration Clauses: Denying Access to Justice?

By Hamilton, Jonnette Watson | McGill Law Journal, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Pre-Dispute Consumer Arbitration Clauses: Denying Access to Justice?


Hamilton, Jonnette Watson, McGill Law Journal


More and more businesses are inserting arbitration clauses into their standard form contracts with Canadian consumers. In so doing, they are denying consumers access to the courts and, in particular, access to class actions. Some businesses are strategically deploying arbitration clauses to give themselves additional advantages. As a result of these business practices, Canadian consumer arbitration law is in a state of flux. If the American experience with pre-dispute consumer arbitration clauses over the past two decades is any indication, this uncertainty in the law may continue for some time to the detriment of individual consumers.

Recent legislation in Ontario and Alberta has prohibited some types of pre-dispute consumer arbitration clauses, but the types each province has banned are different and not all problems with these clauses have been dealt with. The Courts of Appeal in British Columbia and Ontario have taken one approach to the apparent conflict between arbitration legislation and class proceedings legislation, and the Quebec Court of Appeal has taken another. Canadian arbitral organizations have yet to take advantage of the experience of their American counterparts and take action to prevent the abuse of arbitration in the consumer context.

While the courts and arbitral organizations have roles to play, the author argues that a Canada-wide, uniform amendment to provincial arbitration legislation is the best response to the problems posed by pre-dispute consumer arbitration clauses. In her opinion, such clauses should not be effective to deny consumers access to small claims courts or class proceedings or to deny consumers the mandatory legal rights granted to them in the province of their residence.

Un nombre croissant d'entreprises inserent aujourd'hui une clause d'arbitrage dans leurs contrats d'adhesion avec les consommateurs canadiens. Ce faisant, elles privent ces derniers de leur acces aux tribunaux et, en particulier, de leur acces au recours collectif. De plus, certaines entreprises font un usage strategique des clauses d'arbitrage afin de s'accorder des avantages supplementaires. Par consequent, le droit canadien de l'arbitrage des conflits relatifs a la consommation est instable. Par ailleurs, si l'on se fie a l'exemple americain des vingt dernieres annees, cette incertitude juridique pourrait se maintenir pendant quelque temps encore, au detriment des consommateurs.

En effet, meme si des lois recentes en Ontario et en Alberta ont interdit certains types de clauses compromissoires dans les contrats de consommation, les types de clauses que chaque province a bannis ne sont pas les memes, et il demeure toujours des problemes non resolus relatifs a ces clauses. De leur cote, les Cours d'appel de l'Ontario et de la Colombie-Britannique ont prefere une approche autre que celle qui a ete adoptee par la Cour d'appel du Quebec sur le conflit apparent entre la legislation sur l'arbitrage et la legislation sur le recours collectif. Quant aux organisations arbitrales canadiennes, elles n'ont pas encore profite de l'exemple des Etats-Unis pour prevenir le recours excessif a l'arbitrage dans le contexte de la consommation.

Toutefois, alors que les tribunaux et les organisations arbitrales ont un role a jouer dans la prevention des abus, l'auteure soutient que la meilleure solution aux difficultes posees par les clauses compromissoires est d'adopter un amendement, uniforme a travers le Canada, a toute la legislation provinciale sur l'arbitrage. Selon l'auteure, les clauses compromissoires ne devraient pas avoir pour effet de bloquer l'acces des consommateurs ni a la Cour des petites creances ni au recours collectif. Ces clauses ne devraient pas non plus leur enlever les droits legaux et obligatoires qui leur sont accordes dans leur province de residence.

Introduction

I.   Arbitration Legislation and Stay Applications

II.  Consumer Arbitration Cases
     A. 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Pre-Dispute Consumer Arbitration Clauses: Denying Access to Justice?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.