Collective Consumer Arbitration in Spain: A Civil Law Response to U.S.-Style Class Arbitration

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For years, the international legal community has debated the propriety of large-scale arbitration. Most of the analysis has focused on the pros and cons of class arbitration, based on the apparent assumption that any future forms of large-scale arbitration will follow the model initially developed by the United States in the 1980s. However, other types of group arbitration are also possible, as demonstrated by a unique form of collective consumer arbitration created by the Spanish legislature in 2008. The Spanish approach to large-scale arbitral proceedings is intriguing in a variety of ways, not the least of which is its ability to overcome some of the obstacles to U.S.-style class arbitration that arise as a matter of European and national constitutional law. However, the Spanish model also reflects a number of areas of concern. This Article therefore takes an in-depth look at the Spanish statute on collective consumer arbitration to determine whether the procedure offers a realistic and widely applicable civil law response to U.S.-style class arbitration.

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