Your Day In Court That Might Never Come: Being Aware of Arbitration Clauses

September 13, 2012
By Radack & Borunda, P.C. on September 13, 2012 10:51 AM |

It's a regrettable fact of life that people encounter legal problems all too frequently and in many different situations such as: buying a car; or a house; or booking a vacation on a cruise line; or even handing their car over to a valet at a restaurant. And when people encounter problems in such situations, they often end up seeking the assistance of a lawyer.

Texans from all walks of life believe they can pursue remedies for their claims through our court system by filing lawsuits for fraud, breach of contract, negligence or some other similar cause of action. They envision having their day in court and a jury deciding who is right and what the remedy should be. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

Arbitration clauses are becoming common, if not standard, in an ever-increasing variety of transactions involving written contracts or documents. Under arbitration agreements, legal disputes must be resolved, not through our judicial system, but through private organizations that establish their own rules and appoint private individuals to resolve the disputes.

To be clear, arbitration can be a viable, and even desirable, means to resolve a dispute. It offers some advantages. It is a more streamlined, speedy process. And arbitrators are often well versed in the subject matter of the dispute. However, as great as arbitration can be, it is a dispute resolution system that a majority of the public is largely unfamiliar with. The most significant problem with arbitration and arbitration clauses is that many people are unaware that they often become contractually obligated to arbitrate their disputes.

You see, more and more transactions involving written documents contain arbitration clauses. And unfortunately, people often don't read or understand these clauses and, more often, are unaware that these clauses even exist. So, without knowing it, people frequently give up their right to have their day in court.

Our advice to you, look over the documents you sign or receive and look for provisions concerning arbitration or dispute resolution. Plainly, know what you are agreeing to. And if you find you need a lawyer to help you understand those documents, to help you have your day in court or even guide you through arbitration, call Radack & Borunda, P.C.