Preliminary results from the first phase of a study undertaken and released last week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) indicate that "arbitration clauses are commonly used by large banks in credit card and checking account agreements and that roughly nine out of ten clauses allow banks to prevent customers from participating in class actions." The bureau first launched a public inquiry into "the use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses in consumer financial markets" in April 2012, having been mandated to undertake the study as part of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, which itself established the bureau.The results indicate that larger institutions are more likely than banks or credit unions to use arbitration clauses in consumer contracts for credit cards or checking accounts; that, compared with the rest of the contract, arbitration clauses are almost always more complex and "written at a higher grader level"; of the 90 percent of arbitration clauses studied that expressly bar consumers from filing class action arbitrations, the majority were for large banks, meaning that "almost all of the market that is subject to arbitration is also subject to terms that effectively preclude class actions in court or in arbitration"; that consumers do not choose arbitration over class action settlements; consumers do not file arbitrations for small-dollar disputes; and that few consumers file small claims court actions. For more, read the full press release and study.