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March 2007

By: Julia B. Strickland, Stephen J. Newman

The year 2006 was an eventful one in the development of arbitration law, including the United States Supreme Court ruling in Buckeye Check Cashing, Inc. v. Cardegna, 126 S. Ct. 1204, 163 L. Ed. 2d 1038 (2006), that whether an allegedly illegal contract containing an arbitration provision was void must be determined by the arbitrator, not the court. As always, the California courts have been particularly active in addressing arbitration issues, regularly developing new approaches at-odds with other jurisdictions. Further to the reasoning of the California Supreme Court in Discover Bank v. Superior Court, 36 Cal. 4th 148 (2005) (“Discover Bank I”), both the California federal and state courts are increasingly reluctant to enforce arbitration agreements which include “class action waivers.” The most promising open argument may be that agreements with “opt out” provisions should be enforceable; this issue is before the California Supreme Court in Gentry v. Superior Court, Case No. S141502.

Notable opinions decided in 2006 by California federal and state courts are summarized below in reverse chronological order.

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