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Bound & Gagged

How will the battle over mandatory binding arbitration affect you?

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This story appears in the December 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You're taking legal action against a large company. But instead of a jury trial, you're facing an arbitrator.

It's a growing trend, as credit card companies, banks, auto manufacturers and other big businesses inform customers in fine print that any claim, dispute or controversy will be settled in arbitration, where there's no jury and no right to appeal. The result: Just 3 percent of U.S. civil cases now make it to trial. "A trial is very expensive," says Judge William Huss, a mediator and arbitrator in Los Angeles and author of Start Your Own Law Practice. Arbitration, he contends, "is fast, fair and final."

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