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BUS300WSJWAIVINGYOURRIGHTTOAJURY_TRIALrtf

BUS300WSJWAIVINGYOURRIGHTTOAJURY_TRIALrtf - Waiving Your...

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Waiving Your Right To a Jury Trial --- After Years of Requiring Arbitration, Companies Return to the Court System -- but With Conditions By Jane Spencer 1,167 words 17 August 2004 The Wall Street Journal D1 English (Copyright (c) 2004, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) FOR YEARS, in an effort to avoid the slow-moving wheels of the U.S. judicial system, many American companies have forced their customers and employees to agree to settle disputes outside of the courts, through private arbitration. But the rising cost of arbitration proceedings has led some companies to decide they might be better off in the court system after all -- as long as they don't have to tangle with juries. The new tactic: let disputes go to court, but on the condition that they be heard only by a judge. So-called jury waivers, which require people to give up the right to have cases heard by their peers, are now appearing in a wide range of routine contracts. The list includes residential leases, checking-account agreements, auto loans and mortgage contracts. Companies that believe juries are biased toward plaintiffs hope this approach will boost their chances of winning in court. Critics say that unfairly denies citizens' access to the full range of legal options guaranteed by the Constitution. Large nationwide apartment-rental companies, including AvalonBay Communities Inc., Camden Property Trust and AIMCO, now ask some tenants to give up their right to a jury trial as a condition of renting an apartment. American Express Co. includes the waivers for certain overseas private-banking clients. Meanwhile, some consumer-banking agreements from Bank of America Corp. use both an arbitration clause and a jury waiver -- the jury waiver kicks in if the arbitration clause is shot down.
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