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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 29, Issue 1/4, 2013

Language and Culture: Semiotic Vistas

Willam R. Self, Larry Powell, Mark Hickson, III, Justin Johnston
Pages 117-133

Voluntary Abdication of Legal Rights
A Semiotic Analysis of Arbitration Clauses as Miscommunication and Potential Constitutional Violations

The authors address problems with “compulsory” arbitration clauses in contracts. Specifically, they note that consumers are misguided about their rights in such cases. In addition, arbitration clauses do not allow the press to cover any proceedings that may result. The arbitration clauses in contracts are written in legalese that consumers do not understand. The authors found that even university students had difficulty understanding the information in such clauses. An example of an actual case is included.