KU News Release

Sept. 14, 2009
Contact: Mindie Paget, School of Law, (785) 864-9205

KU law professor to testify on arbitration before congressional subcommittee

Stephen J. Ware

More Information

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas law professor Stephen J. Ware will testify before Congress this week during a hearing on “Mandatory Binding Arbitration: Is it Fair and Voluntary?”

Ware will present his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law at 1 p.m. Sept. 15 in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Arbitration is an alternative to litigation in resolving disputes between two parties. The parties present their evidence and arguments to a neutral arbitrator, much as they would to a judge or jury. Disputes go to arbitration only when the parties have previously formed a contract stating their agreement to arbitrate the dispute.

Several bills introduced in Congress would prevent courts from enforcing arbitration agreements in consumer, employment and similar transactions.

In his testimony, Ware will argue that such bills would hurt the very people they are designed to help. Empirical evidence indicates that arbitration tends to be quicker, more efficient and less costly than litigation, Ware said. Furthermore, consumers and employees fare as well, overall, in arbitration as litigation.

“In short, empirical studies do not support the notion that consumer and employment arbitration is unfair,” Ware writes in his testimony.

“We currently have a very sensible system in which courts determine, case-by-case, which arbitration agreements should not be enforced and which provide for a fair process and so should be enforced. As every case is different and arbitration agreements can be written in a wide variety of ways, I believe these issues are better handled on a case-by-case basis in the courts, rather than with the overly broad brush of legislation.”

Ware has devoted much of the past 16 years of his professional life to researching the law, economics and practice of arbitration. He is writing his third book on the subject and has published 20 arbitration articles in scholarly journals, as well as several arbitration-related articles in nonacademic publications. Within the field of arbitration law, he has devoted special attention to arbitration involving consumers, employees and other ordinary individuals.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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