Approaches in consumer rights vary greatly between the United States and Europe. While consumer rights have steadily grown stronger in Europe and alternative dispute resolution bodies handle most of the cases, the United States is known as the home of the class-action lawsuit.

U.S. companies began pushing back by adding binding arbitration clauses in contracts, and today they are the norm.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as required by the Dodd Frank Act of 2010, studied the issue and is likely to propose a rule that would ban class-action-blocking arbitration clauses in businesses overseen by that agency such as credit cards and payday loans.

Alan Kaplinsky, a Ballard Spahr lawyer who introduced the concept of arbitration clauses, says they are “not a conspiracy” as plaintiffs’ lawyers claim, but instead they are “a way to level the playing field.” He suggests that better educating consumers on the benefits of arbitration would encourage them to embrace—not shy away from—arbitration.