Understanding Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia

Raj Bhala talks about Mohammed bin Salmon, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, and his new actions that are transforming the country. He argues that there are different stages, including an economic, legal, and military. "Working three stages simultaneously is hard, but that is the fate of MBS. The Muslim ummah, plus its non-Muslim sisters and brothers, are the audience. No one in this audience wants to see a bad play. All of us yearn for a performance that merits a standing ovation."

KU Law Professor says amending state constitution is potential school finance solution, but a tough task

Professor Mulligan comments on changing the Kansas Constitution. “If the Kansas Legislature wished to begin the process of Constitutional Amendment, they could,” said Mulligan. “It takes a two-thirds vote out of both the Kansas House and the Kansas Senate to send a Constitutional Amendment to the general ballot and that just requires a majority of voters to approve.” He says there are many different ways to get it done, but that it is not an easy task. 

Law professor calls for centrist approach to arbitration, removing it from 'class-action battlefield'

Monday, November 13, 2017

LAWRENCE — After a hard-fought political battle so close that an evenly divided U.S. Senate required the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump recently signed the repeal of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that would have prevented banks from using arbitration agreements to insulate themselves from class-action lawsuits. This news shows the enduring divisiveness of class actions — in which a lawyer combines claims of many consumers — and the spillover effects on arbitration, said University of Kansas law professor and arbitration expert Stephen Ware. His forthcoming article in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review argues for a centrist approach to arbitration law that would remove arbitration from what he calls the “class-action battlefield.”

“Powerful interest groups fighting about class actions is the longstanding norm,” Ware said, “but newer is the centrality of that fight to debates about arbitration law.”

The CFPB studied consumer arbitration for years and could have greatly restricted it but instead chose to issue a rule that would significantly affect only one aspect of it: class actions.

Arbitration’s connection to class actions grew in 2011 when the Supreme Court’s conservative majority approved arbitration agreements requiring disputes to be resolved individually, rather than as part of a class, even though similar “class waivers” in nonarbitration agreements were rarely enforced. The CFPB rule — issued by a bureau directed by a Democrat — would have ended enforcement of arbitration agreements’ class waivers had it not been overridden by the Republican Congress and president.

The predictably partisan pattern of Republicans and business groups opposing class actions, while Democrats and progressive groups support them, increasingly extends to arbitration debates, according to Ware’s research. In contrast, his centrist position on arbitration would not take sides on whether to enforce arbitral class waivers but instead would instruct courts to enforce arbitral class waivers only when they would enforce a class waiver in a similar nonarbitration contract. This would allow courts in different states to have different standards about when to enforce class waivers and would allow such standards to evolve over time as views about class actions develop. Most beneficially for arbitration law, Ware believes, this approach would allow arbitration law to stop choosing sides in the long interest group fight over class actions, as arbitration law would simply adopt whatever approach other areas of law take to class waivers.

More broadly, Ware’s article in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review is the third in a trilogy arguing for a centrist approach to consumer arbitration law, in contrast with both current conservative arbitration law and progressive proposals to prohibit consumer arbitration agreements entirely.

“The law has been dealing for generations with a variety of provisions on consumers’ form contracts,” Ware said. “Few people want courts always to enforce all the words on these forms, and few people want courts never to enforce any of those words. Most people want the law to keep finding a happy medium.”

Courts presumptively enforce most terms on consumer contracts in most cases but sometimes find a particular provision “unconscionable,” or overly harsh, and thus unenforceable. Also, state and federal regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and CFPB sometimes prohibit contract terms harsh to consumers.

“The CFPB apparently decided an agreement to arbitrate is not necessarily harsh to consumers,” Ware said. “And for good reason. The Bureau is receptive to the standard economic argument that arbitration agreements tend to lower businesses’ costs and some of these savings are passed through to consumers in the form of lower prices. In addition, the most relevant empirical evidence does not show consumers faring worse in arbitration of one-on-one disputes than they do in litigation of such disputes.”

The better-documented disparity between arbitration and litigation, Ware said, is the potential for a class action.

Saudi student leader at KU pleased with progress in homeland and at KU Law

"The Saudi student leader at the University of Kansas sees the biggest challenge for his homeland going forward as economic." Bander Almohammadi said that he has found found friendly people at the University of Kansas and that they have made him feel at home. He said since classes have been in session he has been working to acquire more knowledge about the American justice system. 

Federal prosecutors In Kansas City, Kansas, under fire for power plays in pursuit of 'justice'

"Two recent cases involving prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas, point to a problem that some criminal defense lawyers say has been building for a long time: For years, they say, a small group of federal prosecutors in KCK has run roughshod over the rights of criminal defendants.

The worst reason to condemn Roy Moore

University of Kansas Law professor Corey Rayburn Yung says that the Roy Moore's take on the case Higdon v. Alabama was not dishonorable. "Force with a child is arguably different than force with an adult because of size, power, and maturity,' Yung said, but Alabama law does not reflect this commonsense distinction. So the state Supreme Court chose to fix the problem by effectively redefining force in cases of child sexual abuse. That may be an honorable undertaking. But there is nothing dishonorable about Moore’s insistence that the legislature fix its own mistakes."

Middle East expert says much still to learn about latest Saudi crackdown

"A Middle East expert at the University of Kansas believes there is still much to learn about the latest crackdown on corruption in Saudi Arabia. 'Over the weekend, a large number, several dozen senior businesspersons and Royal Family members were arrested and charged with corruption,' said Raj Bhala, the Brennesein Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas Law School, and a Senior Advisor at Dentons. 'Their finances and their business transactions have violated one or the other laws, from tax evasion to money laundering to disclosure.

Yes our rights do - and should - slow down the justice system

Following the death of 8 people in a terrorist attack in New York City President Donald Trump said that our judicial system was a joke. Justice and KU Law professor Steve Leben says that our constitutional rights slow down the justice system. He wrote in the Kansas City Star, "Giving people rights slows down the system. And the level of protection we get — which determines how much we need to slow down was largely determined when the Bill of Rights was adopted." He said that the justice system works well, even though it may be imperfect.  

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