Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | July 21, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says National Arbitration Forum was a biased arbitration forum against consumers in collection cases according to Minnesota consent decree.

On July 19th, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced that the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) – the country’s largest administrator of consumer arbitrations — has agreed that it will no longer arbitrate any cases between consumers and businesses.  That means no more arbitrations for credit card companies, among other consumer credit lenders.

The consent decree, entered into between the Minnesota Attorney General and the NAF, was reached after the Attorney General had filed a lawsuit on July 14th unveiling explosive new facts alleging that the NAF hid from the public its extensive ties to the collection industry.

Among many other connections, the Minnesota Attorney General alleged that the same people who owned the largest debt collection law firms in the U.S. also owned a substantial percentage of the NAF while the NAF served as a supposedly “neutral” decision maker in hundreds of thousands of debt collection cases brought by those law firms each year. 

In layman’s terms, the arbitration hearing was rigged in favor of the creditor and not fair and unbiased and certainly not an ideal of American justice.  This situation simply STINKS!

For over 10 years, Public Justice has investigated and litigated numerous cases involving abusive practices of the NAF against consumers in a variety of lending contexts. In court cases challenging NAF’s refusal to make required public disclosures about its cases and challenging the NAF as being a biased decisionmaker in consumer cases, in testimony before Congress and administrative bodies, and in numerous articles and public presentations, we have long argued that the close relationship between NAF and banks and debt collectors led to serious abuses of consumers.

The consent decree forbids the NAF from administering, processing, or “[i]n any manner participating” in any new consumer arbitrations on or after July 24th. In exchange, the Minnesota Attorney General has agreed to dismiss her lawsuit.

Both Swanson and Bland will testify before the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Domestic Policy this Wednesday about the ways in which consumers are harmed by pre-dispute, mandatory arbitration clauses.

To read the consent decree, click here. <http://www.publicjustice.net/Repository/Files/NAFMinn_Letter_071909.pdf

To read the Minnesota Attorney General’s Complaint against the NAF, click here. <http://www.publicjustice.net/Repository/Files/NAFMinn_Complaint.pdf

To read the Minnesota Attorney General’s letter to the American Arbitration Association asking it to get out of the consumer arbitration business too, click here. <http://www.publicjustice.net/Repository/Files/AAA-MinnAG_letter_071909.pdf

Am I wrong, but should someone at the New York Bar Association spend time investigating attorneys and lawfirms that filed thousands of collection claims in a rigged forum to collect debts?  Hello New York Bar Counsel?

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