Laura Mangotta

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On July 1, 2011 Maryland House Bill 442 was enacted into law. The Act, entitled Consumer Protection - Transparency in Consumer Arbitrations Act, is aimed at protecting consumers who become parties to binding consumer arbitration, particularly through adhesion. The Act requires that specified arbitration organizations collect, publish and make available information relating to binding consumer arbitration. Additionally, the Act lays out specific guidelines for how and when the information is to be published. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Act can result in the arbitration agreement being deemed unconscionable or unenforceable, but may not be "the sole reason to refuse to enforce an award made in consumer arbitration." A prior attempt at similarly protecting consumers' interest in binding arbitration was introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates in 2010, was passed out of the House, but died in the Senate coming up one vote shy of passage in the Senate Finance Committee. This article will discuss specific aspects of the new law, place the law within the context of other attemps to protect consumers in binding arbitration, and discuss the practical implications of the law.



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