by Jeff Sovern
Industry lawyer Thomas B. Hudson of Hudson Cook has authored Arbitration Agreements: Not Always Good All the Time for AutoDealer Today, in which he writes:
An arbitration agreement is the dealer’s first and best line of defense against class-action lawsuits. If you think that isn’t reason enough, have a word with the many South Carolina dealers sued in class actions over allegedly improper doc fees who were able to have the class actions dismissed, with individual plaintiffs left with claims in arbitration. Dealers who did not use arbitration agreements paid millions of dollars to their customers and the customers’ class action lawyers.
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Lawyers for consumers, when confronted with documents signed by their clients and containing arbitration agreements, tend to lose interest in pursuing the consumer’s claim. Perhaps these lawyers are unfamiliar with how to handle an arbitration proceeding, or perhaps they are of the view that they can’t get a decent award of attorneys’ fees from an arbitrator.
Whatever the reason, consumers have historically not initiated arbitration proceedings with much frequency. * * *
He also advocates:
In order to make sure arbitration agreements between dealers and consumers will be enforced by courts, and even by those courts that bend over backward to rule for consumers, lawyers for dealers who draft the agreements make them as consumer-friendly as possible. One of the consumer-friendly provisions that you’ll often see is one by which the business undertakes to pay some or all of the consumer’s costs in arbitration.