The CFPB announced on April 24th that it is taking the first step in conducting a study into the impact of arbitration and arbitration clauses on consumers as used by consumer financial services companies.

The study will result in a report to Congress addressing the use of arbitration agreements in connection with the offering or providing of consumer financial products or services. As a preliminary step to undertaking the study, the CFPB has published a Notice and Request for Information seeking suggestions from the public to identify the appropriate scope of the Study and appropriate methods and sources of data for conducting the study.

The CFPB's Request asks for information on the following topics:

  • The prevalence of arbitration clauses in consumer financial products and services;
  • What claims consumers bring in arbitration against financial services companies;
  • If claims are brought by financial services companies against consumers in arbitration;
  • How consumers and companies are affected by actual arbitrations; and
  • How consumers and companies are affected by arbitration clauses outside of actual arbitrations

The CFPB's request also includes, for each of the above-mentioned points, questions regarding what method of study the Bureau should use, what data the Bureau should seek and from which entities, whether particular markets should be a focus and, if so, which markets. Comments are due on June 23, 2012.

The upcoming study reflects an increasing scrutiny on arbitration clauses and companies using arbitration agreements should watch the developing study closely.