Jim Hightower wrote a succinct piece in his article, Hightower: Corporate Kangaroo Courts Supplant Our Seventh Amendment Rights, that explains very simply some of the high (or low depending on your perspective) points of arbitration. He says:
“All you really need to know about today's process is that it's the product of years of conceptual monkey-wrenching by corporate lobbyists, Congress, the Supreme Court and hired-gun lobbying firms looking to milk the system for steady profits. First and foremost, these fixers have turned a voluntary process into the exact opposite: mandatory. Let's look at this mess.
Unlike courts, arbitration is not a public system, but a private business.
Far from being neutral, "the third-party" arbitration firms are - get this! - usually hand-picked by the corporation involved in the case, chosen specifically because they have proven records of favoring the corporation.
The corporation also gets to choose the city or town where the case is heard, allowing it to make the case inconvenient, expensive and unfair to individuals bringing a complaint.
Arbitrators are not required to know the law relevant to the cases they judge or to follow legal precedents.
Normal procedural rules for gathering and sharing evidence and safeguarding fairness to both parties do not apply in arbitration cases.
Arbitration proceedings are closed to the media and the public.
Arbitrators need not reveal the reasons for their decisions, so they are not legally accountable for errors, and the decisions set no legal precedents for guiding future corporate conduct.
Even if an arbitrator's decision is legally incorrect, it still is enforceable, carrying the full weight of the law.
There is virtually no right to appeal an arbitrator's ruling.”
Does this mean that arbitration doesn't have any place in your judicial system? No. What it means is that one must be suspicious of a process that is forced on someone before he or she even knows there is a problem. The next time you buy a car, apply for a loan, or apply for a credit card, tell the business you want the mandatory binding arbitration provision removed from the contract. See what happens. If it is such a great process, why won't businesses wait until an unresolved problem appears? Then the business can bring up arbitration if it wants to. Then both sides can decide whether arbitration is best for them.