The AALS Section on Transactional Law and Skills invites papers that analyze the question of access to the courts in a variety of transactional law settings, for a program at the AALS annual meeting (Jan. 3-6, 2018, San Diego, CA). Proposals (1-2 pp.) are due by Aug. 31, 2017.
From small business disputes, to mandatory consumer arbitration, to restrictions on shareholder lawsuits, it is no longer obvious that parties will have access to courts in the event of a dispute. In many cases small businesses may negotiate for alternative dispute resolution in commercial contracts as more efficient than going to courts. In others, like in the context of consumer contracting, restricting access to the courts is not typically subject of negotiation, and many consumer transactions now come with mandatory arbitration clauses.In recent years, in response to an explosion in shareholder and class action litigation, corporations also began to look to a variety of self-help remedies (often aided by state legislatures), including exclusive forum provisions and fee-shifting provisions among others, to restrict access to the courts by shareholders.Taken together one could reasonably question whether the current trajectory in common business and consumer settings to limit parties and third parties access to the courts through a variety of transactional mechanisms is good policy or it goes too far.