Sunday, April 06, 2008

No Lawyers, Please

Americans prefer cheaper, faster methods of settling legal disputes. Who knew?
A poll released this week finds that most Americans do not want their day i1n court. Rather, they prefer cheaper and faster methods of settling arguments. When asked how they'd like to settle a dispute with a company, 82% chose arbitration, which avoids the time and expense of going to court. Only 15% opted for litigation. Americans are not confident that a lawsuit will produce a fair result, reports the poll, but a solid majority looks favorably on mediation and arbitration.

A 2003 ABA survey found that 78% of lawyers "believe that arbitration is generally timelier than litigation, and 56% feel it is more cost effective."
At least the trial bar is there to protect American liberty!
Still, the trial bar is asking Congress to prohibit Americans from agreeing at the start of a business relationship to submit disputes to arbitration. Representative Hank Johnson (D., Georgia) and Senator Russ Feingold (D., Wisconsin) have introduced legislation to do just that. Their bill goes a step further, retroactively invalidating tens of millions of contracts nationwide. Even trial lawyers can dream.

The Benenson survey finds that 75% of Americans oppose the idea. Congress should too, and vote down the ironically named Arbitration Fairness Act.

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