Unlocking Answers through Dispute Resolution

Submit a Case

Preeminent ADR Firm Critical of New York Times Arbitration Series

Industry leader Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) brings valuable knowledge and experience of out-of- court dispute resolution to those seeking mediation and arbitration solutions as a means to achieve faster, less frustrating, and more effective resolution to business and personal disputes.

December 15, 2015 – The New York Times recently published a three-part series entitled “Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice” (October 31, 2015) that reported on injustices and abuses within certain realms of arbitration. The series detailed some valid issues; however, through partisan perspective, vilified the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) system in its entirety.

The focus of the Times series was the expanding utilization of arbitration clauses in consumer and commercial contracts among parties with unequal bargaining power; for example, a bank customer versus a large financial institution, or a low-wage employee versus their employer. These arbitration clauses are gaining popularity and are often buried in fine print. A tremendous number of consumers do not notice them when signing contracts such as credit card agreements, or if they do, most do not understand them or their relevance.

The series was critical of these clauses, which waive class-action lawsuits by consumers and present the impracticality of pursuing claims against large corporations unless the consumer is within a class action. The most troubling part of the series was the second installment, in which a small number of cases were highlighted where the outcomes appeared unjust and strongly indicated that the process of arbitration and arbitrators as a whole were somehow biased and the entire arbitral system was anti-consumers or plaintiffs.

Though the articles make a case for reform of mandatory arbitration clauses hidden in contracts – either by court decisions or legislative response – we must emphasize that the arbitration process has a long and honorable history, and should justifiably remain a viable and often preferred option
to litigation and trial for many disputes. Arbitration is more frequently and freely decided upon by parties and their attorneys in ongoing cases, without any mandatory arbitration clause. Its inherent features, which include time and expense savings, ability to mutually select the arbitrator(s), convenience and efficiency of scheduling and location, privacy benefits, and the finality of an award, are appropriate and favored by a great percentage of parties involved in disputes.

Attorney Brian Jerome, Founder and Director of MDRS, asserts that a few select anecdotes of inequitable arbitration – the outcomes of which seemed particularly unjust – should not characterize the work of the ADR community, especially of those dedicated arbitrators who hear cases, review presented testimony and evidence, and make logical and unbiased decisions. The Times series does not represent the breadth of arbitration or more than a miniscule portion of cases. As attorneys and ADR practitioners, at MDRS, we are bound by strict ethical rules and pledge authentic neutrality: both values are at the core of our mission and professional life.

Attorney Jerome, Chair of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s ADR Committee, is available for questions and interviews as indicated below.

About MDRS – Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) provides a full range of out-of-court mediation and arbitration services to private individuals, attorneys, business, labor, and the insurance community. MDRS, one of the first ADR providers in Massachusetts, offers a professional
panel of over 35 select neutrals, including retired judges and experienced attorneys. Including cases handled by the panel, they have resolved more than twelve thousand cases for their clients.

Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services provides mediation and arbitration services to parties who seek equitable settlement of their disputes without the time, expense, and frustration which often accompany the more formal trial court system. MDRS neutrals provide a wide spectrum of experience paired with dispute resolution processes designed to meet the parties’ interests in solving disputes equitably and skillfully.

If you would like more information, please call Business Manager Sheri Stevens at (800) 536-5520 or e-mail Sheri at caseadmin@mdrs.com.

Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS)

60 State Street, Suite 700

Boston, Massachusetts 02109

Phone: (800) 536-5520

Fax: (978) 741-2368