The CFPB took its first step to fulfilling its mandate under section 1028(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act to study arbitration clauses by issuing today a Notice and Request for Information to help identify the appropriate scope of its study, as well as the appropriate methods and sources of data for conducting the study. Specifically, the Bureau has requested suggestions from the public and  has listed a series of questions to determine how, among other issues, it should determine the prevalence of the use of such clauses in various markets and the prevalence of particular terms, as well as what data it should seek and from whom. The Bureau is also looking into whether it should study changes in the language of arbitration clauses over time, and whether it should analyze the types of claims brought under arbitration, and the cost and speed of arbitration proceedings, as well as the outcomes.

While the Bureau has the authority to regulate arbitration clauses, including an outright prohibition, it is not requesting comment on whether and how it should exercise its rulemaking authority at this time. The purpose of the request and the submitted comments is merely to assist the Bureau in structuring its study. Comments are due on or before June 23, 2012.