This page provides information about the AAA's® administration of consumer arbitrations and links to a number of relevant documents and Rules.
The AAA administers consumer arbitrations pursuant to the due process standards contained in the AAA's Consumer Due Process Protocol and the AAA’s Consumer Arbitration Rules. The AAA will accept a case for administration only after the AAA reviews the parties’ arbitration agreement and if the AAA determines that the agreement substantially and materially complies with the due process standards of the Rules and the Consumer Due Process Protocol. If the AAA declines to administer a consumer arbitration, either party may submit the dispute to an appropriate court for resolution.
The AAA has been at the forefront in developing standards of fairness for disputes between consumers and businesses. In April 1998, the AAA developed the Consumer Due Process Protocol in cooperation with groups representing government agencies, consumer interest groups and educational institutions, as well as businesses. The goal of the Protocol, in concert with the Consumer Arbitration Rules, is to ensure fairness and even-handedness in the resolution of disputes in arbitration. The AAA exercises its authority to decline administration of arbitration demands where an arbitration clause contains material violations of the Consumer Due Process Protocol.
Key Provisions of the Due Process Protocol:
The Searle Study reviewed a representative sample of approximately 300 AAA consumer arbitration case files that were awarded between April and December of 2007. Among the findings in the Searle study were conclusions about the costs, speed and outcomes of consumer arbitrations administered by the AAA:
The Consumer Due Process Protocols and the AAA's Consumer Rules permit claimants to bring claims in small claims court rather than arbitration even if the claims fall within the parties’ arbitration clause.
What if I would prefer to go to court rather than use arbitration?
As with all contracts, it is very important to read all of the terms of the agreement. Arbitration agreements are no different so you should carefully read the language in the arbitration agreement. Some companies offer you the ability to opt-out of their arbitration requirement in a contract within a certain time period, usually a period of time after entering into the contract. Opting-out of an arbitration agreement typically means that you would resolve any future disputes in court instead of through arbitration. Most opt-out options have very specific time frames so you will generally need to complete the opt-out process in the time set in the agreement. You will also need to carefully follow any other instructions provided in connection with the opt-out opportunity.
If you are in a contract containing an arbitration clause naming the AAA Rules, you may still be able to bring your dispute in small claims court instead of arbitration, as long as the claim falls within the jurisdiction requirements of the small claims court. In those situations, AAA Rules specifically allow you to file your claim in small claims court instead of arbitration. For more specific information, see the AAA’s Consumer Arbitration Rules, R-9. Small Claims Option for the Parties.
In consumer arbitration proceedings, the consumer’s administrative fee is capped at $200. The business pays the arbitrator’s compensation unless the consumer–post dispute–voluntarily elects to pay a portion of the arbitrator’s compensation.
The AAA’s Consumer Rules contain provisions that make certain information publicly available about consumer arbitrations administered by the AAA. This includes Rules establishing a registry of businesses with AAA consumer arbitration agreements and another that provides for the publication of redacted consumer arbitration awards.
In 2009, the AAA implemented a moratorium on the administration of debt collection arbitration programs. Matters included in this moratorium are consumer debt collection programs or bulk filings and individual case filings in which the company is the filing party and the consumer has not agreed to arbitrate at the time of the dispute, and the case involves a credit card bill, a telecom bill or a consumer finance matter.
Please complete the form below to register for the webinar Vacatur and Enforcement of Arbitration Awards:
November 9, 2016
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm ET
AAA Panelist: $80
and Stanley Sklar
This webinar will satisfy annual
Arbitrator Continuing Education (ACE)
requirements for AAA Arbitrators.