News & Noteworthy

Authored - NJ Contract Law Update - Class-Action Issues Arising From Arbitration Agreements May Be Different
APRIL 09, 2014 | Windels Marx - Commercial Litigation

Chassen v. Fidelity National Financial, Inc., 2014 WL 202763 (D.N.J. Jan. 17, 2014), reflects a small slice of the law governing arbitration agreements. Specifically, and arising from conflicts over whether arbitration clauses can and should be applied to and enforced with regard to class actions, the following issues are presented:

  1. Who decides whether there should be class-wide arbitration: the court or the arbitrator?
  2. Does an arbitration clause need to expressly say that it applies to 'class-wide arbitration', in order to encompass same? What is the 'default position' if the issue is not mentioned in an otherwise comprehensive arbitration clause?
  3. How are due process issues, affecting non-named plaintiffs in a putative class action, to be addressed and protected?

These and other issues are set forth in the Chassen Opinion, albeit without that Court expressing strong opinions on the substantive issues. Notwithstanding, Chassen is a helpful guide to an attorney starting to conceptualize how to deal with a class-wide arbitration issue.

Contact & Legal Disclaimer

Clark Alpert is the author of Guide to New Jersey Contract Law, published by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education and now in its third edition. His updates on New Jersey contract law are based on recent issues and practical methods for addressing similar situations in your practice or business. They are not intended to serve as legal advice. Clark welcomes your questions and comments.

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